Manchester giants look to extend lead over chasing Premier League pack

LONDON (AFP) – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his Manchester United players to show the relentlessness of champions when they welcome bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United to Old Trafford early tomorrow (4.15am Brunei time).

United will be confident of extending a 13-game unbeaten league run in the league that has taken them to the top of the table against the Blades, who have won only once in the top flight this season.

However, Solskjaer’s men could find themselves knocked down to second by the time they kick-off as Manchester City can go top if they beat second-bottom West Brom.

United’s fine form continued by knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Sunday, winning a thrilling tie 3-2.

But Solskjaer is wary of his side slipping back into bad habits as they have done previously after good runs in his tenure.

Manchester United’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks with midfielder Paul Pogba. PHOTO: AP

“Now I want to see the reaction, how we can now mentally go again, against Sheffield United. That’s the challenge now,” said Solskjaer.

“We have beaten Liverpool, and everyone is elated, very happy and they should be, but tomorrow I want to see players thinking about the next game.”

United could be without Marcus Rashford, who limped off with a knee injury late on against Liverpool.

But Solskjaer will be able to welcome back Bruno Fernandes to the starting line-up after he came off the bench to score the winner against the English champions at the weekend with a stunning free-kick.

TOP-FOUR BATTLES

A draw with West Brom also sparked the collapse of Liverpool’s title defence as Jurgen Klopp’s men have failed to win in five league games to slip to fourth, six points off the top.

When the Reds hosted Tottenham just over a month ago it was a top-of-the-table clash. Now they meet again locked in a battle just to try and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Spurs are a point behind Liverpool, but have a game in hand and have recovered from their own dip in form to take seven points from the last possible nine.

Leicester sit between the Manchester giants and Liverpool as they aim to recreate their title-winning heroics of 2015/16.

The Foxes travel to another top-four contender Everton, who were the last team to beat Brendan Rodgers’ men eight games ago.

Leicester will be without talisman Jamie Vardy for a few weeks after a hernia operation, but Rodgers believes his side can cope without the 34-year-old.

“We have scored 53 goals over the course of the season so far. Jamie has 13 and 40 of our goals have come from other people,” said Rodgers.