Wayne Rooney has warned Manchester United to beware champions Chelsea as the Premier League title race begins to take shape.
Although United did not experience the difficulties Arsenal and Chelsea endured to collect three points last night, their 3-1 win over Aston Villa keeps them at the head of affairs. Arsenal remain their closest challengers, five points adrift.
But it could be Chelsea, 10 points behind but buoyed by the £70million acquisition of duo Fernando Torres and David Luiz, who could provide the greatest threat.
"We certainly haven't written Chelsea off," Rooney said.
"They are a big strong side and we know if anyone is capable of going on a good run then it is them.
"But we know it is up to us where the title goes and hopefully we can win it back."
Rooney took just 50 seconds to answer Sir Alex Ferguson's call for increased goals output, tapping home a second just before the break.
It still took a stunning strike from Nemanja Vidic to seal victory after Darren Bent had pulled one back for the visitors, although for Rooney, it could be the start of a personal crusade after taking his below-par seasonal tally to five.
"I have been happy with my play but obviously I want to score," said Rooney.
"As a striker you want to score goals but I have been happy with my performances, apart from the Blackpool match last week when I just couldn't get back into the game.
"I am delighted to have scored and hopefully I can go on a run now and help the team to win games."
The result allowed United to equal their club record of 29 league games unbeaten and Villa boss Gerard Houllier admitted that with Rooney on top form, the Red Devils will be hard to stop.
"Wayne Rooney was the difference. He was awesome," said the Frenchman.
"But we have helped his confidence. What he needed was a goal. We gave him one. He took it very well.
"They have managed to win a lot of games and remain unbeaten without him. With him, wow.
"He was on top of his game. He had everything. He can control, turn, twist, play the pass. He defends, he works hard. It was an example for what kids should do. The workrate and link play. Everything."