Manchester United have edge over City claims Chris Smalling

 

Chris Smalling believes the momentum is with Manchester United as the Red Devils look to take a firm grip on the Barclays Premier League title battle by beating Fulham tonight.

While a draw at Stoke in itself is not a bad result, Manchester City's failure to win at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday has left the door open for United to open up a three-point lead on the team who pose the only realistic barrier to a record 20th league championship.

As City have faltered on their travels, United have stepped up the pace, dropping only two points during a tough run of fixtures that included matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham.

"We may have an edge over City at the minute," said Smalling.

"Experience is one thing, momentum is another. We are really building that at the minute.

"Those are the two things that can really help us push on."

It is difficult to avoid title talk in Manchester, with both red and blue camps optimistic their side will come out on top.

Rio Ferdinand alluded to it last week and while Smalling is not about to follow his team-mate's lead in claiming City fans are crawling out of the woodwork, he does hear plenty from those noisy neighbours.

"That it's City just spurs us on even more," he said.

"They're making a lot of noise over there and we don't them to win it.

"You see the table a lot and people are talking about all the fixtures coming up so it is always very much on our minds.

"And the fact we are training four or five days a week for each game builds them up even more in the sense of just how important they are."

 

Smalling is available to face his old club after finally recovering from the nasty head wound he suffered during England's recent friendly defeat to Holland.

He has even ditched the head guard he wore during a comeback against Athletic Bilbao when his stitches opened up.

"I've not seen it again but it wasn't nice," said Smalling.

Meanwhile, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the influence of Ferdinand at Old Trafford.

Ferdinand has been written off many times during the past three and a half years, firstly after the extent of his back problems first became evident.

He was discarded by England boss Fabio Capello prior to the Italian's surprise resignation.

This season, though, Ferdinand has excelled.

"He has taken on that role of the influential person in the dressing room. He is great with the players," Ferguson said.

For all Ferdinand's back issues - and recent reports he may be interested in a lucrative move to China - Ferguson is convinced the defender will carry on for a while yet.

"He is still young for a centre-back," said the United boss. "In normal terms you would expect a centre back with his athleticism to play well into their thirties anyway.

"We all know about his back problem, so we've had to manage that.

"He has adapted really well to the challenge of making sure he is fit and fresh to play in the games when we need him.

"How long he goes on for is all down to how he feels physically, other than that he has no issues at all."

PA

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