London: Manchester United winger Ashley Young has warned title rivals Manchester City there is no chance his team of serial winners will falter with the Premier League crown within touching distance.
Young and his United team-mates return to league action against managerless Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday determined to get back on track after a pair of frustrating setbacks.
After being dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid, United blew a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
But Alex Ferguson’s side remain firmly on course to regain the English title from champions City after surging 12 points clear at the top.
And England international Young is convinced the experience of the likes of Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, who have all won countless trophies with United, will ensure they don’t throw away their lead.
“When you move to a club like United, you look at the trophy cabinet and what they have won,” Young said.
“In the dressing room everybody is a born winner. The manager gives you that belief to win every game and win trophies.
“At a club like Manchester United winning is a habit. You go into every game wanting to win and there is a disappointment when you don’t do it, and that includes during training.
“Even there it is the same winning mentality you take that on to the pitch in games.”
While even City manager Roberto Mancini has conceded his team have only a slim chance of catching United, the club’s French left-back Gael Clichy has a more positive outlook.
City have only beaten Everton once in seven games during Mancini’s reign and David Moyes’ men will be desperate to defeat the champions at Goodison Park as they look to erase the bitter taste of last weekend’s FA Cup exit against Wigan.
But Clichy believes City’s epic fightback in the title race last season, when they came from eight points behind to overhaul United on the final day, should provide more than enough motivation to keep chasing Ferguson’s team.
“If you look at the scenario, it is actually not that much different from last season — eight points behind with six games to go last year, 12 behind with 10 to play this time around,” Clichy said.
“If United don’t make mistakes, they win the title, but everyone is saying United have to lose four games.
“That’s not true, if they draw a few matches we can make up points in that way.
“What we want to do is keep taking three points every week and really keep the pressure on United.”
While the fate of the title race remains in United’s hands, the battle to qualify for the Champions League is much harder to predict.
Third placed Tottenham host Fulham knowing they must win to stay ahead of Chelsea, who are two points behind their London rivals in fourth place.
The Blues face West Ham at Stamford Bridge looking to build on that impressive Cup recovery against United.
Arsenal made a valiant effort to avoid elimination from the Champions League on Wednesday, winning 2-0 at Bayern Munich but losing the last 16 tie on away goals.
But there is no time for Arsene Wenger’s fifth placed team to feel sorry for themselves as they travel to Swansea looking to close the gap on Chelsea, who are five points ahead of the Gunners.
“Overall we had a good reaction against Bayern and it’s good for the future,” Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud said.
“We have to focus because we have a big game in three days against Swansea. It will be a hard game but we need the win to reach Tottenham and Chelsea.”
At the other end of the table, QPR travel to Aston Villa for a crunch relegation clash with confidence high after successive victories.
Fixtures (1500GMT unless stated)
Aston Villa v QPR, Everton v Manchester City (1245GMT) Southampton v Liverpool, Stoke v West Brom, Swansea v Arsenal Manchester United v Reading (1730GMT)
Chelsea v West Ham (1600GMT), Sunderland v Norwich (1330GMT), Tottenham v Fulham, Wigan v Newcastle (1600GMT)