Vidic: United must be ruthless to beat London's leading lights

They will be billed as the games of the season but the Manchester United captain, Nemanja Vidic, said he doubted the next two fixtures, against Arsenal and Chelsea, will be pivotal events when it comes to deciding the Premier League. The season had proved too erratic for Sky Television to be talking of "Decisive December".

"It is hard to say, honestly," said Vidic. "It would give us a big advantage if we won those two games and take us into a great position but, if you look at what has happened since the start of the season, you can't predict anything. All we can do is look at ourselves, take it game by game, although I'm positive about what we can achieve."

Despite the fact that United topped their group, Vidic admitted there had been nervousness spreading through the team as the full-time whistle approached in Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League draw with Valencia. United are not a team known for shirking a challenge but they were anxious to avoid finishing second and facing the prospect of a journey to Munich, Madrid or Barcelona in the spring. Domestically, however, the great encounters with London's two major clubs cannot be postponed.

"Arsenal is the biggest game we have had since the beginning of the season and now you are coming to the stage when teams are starting to separate themselves from the rest and we are starting to show a lot of good form," said Vidic, who unusually to English ears described the encounter with Arsenal as a "derby". This it may be in the same way that Juventus v Internazionale is the "Derby d'Italia" – a showdown between, traditionally, Serie A's two pivotal forces.

"It is a derby and in a derby you are not going to have the same number of chances that we had against Valencia," he said. "Everything you are given, you have to take." Dimitar Berbatov, perhaps Vidic's closest friend at Old Trafford, had enough opportunities to have repeated the five goals he scored against Blackburn last month; the game that suggested that if United were to regain the Premier League title, it would not be by default.

If they do, it will be Vidic who lifts the trophy, which a year ago would have appeared a long shot. His name was being continually linked with Real Madrid, his wife, Ana, was supposedly unhappy in Manchester and Rio Ferdinand seemed the logical recipient of the armband. Instead, it fell to Vidic because, unlike some of his rivals, he was guaranteed his place in the team week-in and week-out. The Serb has been unafraid to bare his teeth in public – demanding that United put an end to their habit of conceding sloppy goals that threatened to derail their season. In the Champions League, they shipped a grand total of one.

"I am coming to an age where I have to take a bit more responsibility," said Vidic. "If you are young, then you can play without responsibility but I cannot any longer. I have to show an example to some of these young players we have – and that is a natural progression when you're getting older. The more responsibility you have, the more pressure you have and your focus and concentration is better. Of course, I enjoy it."

The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, rates Paul Scholes as "doubtful" for Monday's game with Arsenal at Old Trafford. The veteran midfielder has not featured since the victory over Rangers last month, when he picked up a groin injury.

Scholes had been expected to play some part against Valencia but, after a minor setback in training, Ferguson fears he will not be able to call upon him against Arsène Wenger's side. "Paul tried training on Sunday and came off," Ferguson said. "He will be doubtful for next Monday."

United are rather more optimistic about Ferdinand, who was forced out of Tuesday's game five minutes into the second half after feeling some discomfort in his hamstring. "Rio felt it at half-time," said Ferguson. "He wanted to try it but it still felt tight. We weren't prepared to take a chance. There was no point because we had Chris Smalling to come on. He has six days and I am sure he will be OK for Monday."

The manager was full of praise for goalscorer Anderson, who hit the back of the net for only the second time in 109 appearances for the club when he tucked home the rebound to a powerful Park Ji-sung strike as United secured the draw they required to top Group C.

"Anderson has been absolutely brilliant in the last three games," said Ferguson. "He has been tremendous. He offers something different from the other midfield players we have got. He has tremendous pace, can beat a man and is always decisive in his passing."

Group C

Results: Bursaspor 0-4 Valencia, Man Utd 0-0 Rangers; Rangers 1-0 Bursaspor, Valencia 0-1 Man Utd; Man Utd 1-0 Bursaspor, Rangers 1-1 Valencia; Bursaspor 0-3 Man Utd, Valencia 3-0 Rangers; Valencia 6-1 Bursaspor, Rangers 0-1 Man Utd; Bursaspor 1-1 Rangers, Man Utd 1-1 Valencia.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent