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Moyes facing familiar foe

Updated: 2013-12-04 07:23
By Agence France-Presse in Manchester ( China Daily)

Manchester United manager David Moyes claims his side's Premier League title bid will gather momentum before the end of the year as he prepares to welcome former club Everton to Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The Red Devils have slipped to eighth place in the standings after consecutive 2-2 draws on the road against Cardiff City and Tottenham Hotspur in their past two matches.

But with games against teams lower down in the league, including Aston Villa, Stoke, Hull and Norwich, to come after their game against Everton, Moyes does not think it will be long before his squad will be among the title challengers.

"We are concerned that we are not as close as we would like to be, but it is a long season and I think we have got room to get better and progress. That is without a doubt," he said.

"Hopefully we will be there. There are a lot of games coming up in the next eight weeks and we hope to be in the mix at the end of that period.

"Tottenham was not an easy place to go. They have their own pride and they showed that in their performance.

"Now we have a week that sees us with two home matches. We have had three away on the bounce and won in the Champions League and picked up two draws. It is not ideal, but also not the worst."

Moyes said striker Wayne Rooney, who scored both United goals in its draw with Spurs, has deserved the plaudits he has received for his performances recently as he prepares to face his boyhood club again.

An 18-year-old Rooney was sold to United for $42.5 million in 2004 by Moyes when he was in charge of Everton.

Moyes facing familiar foe

"He deserves the adulation he is getting," said Moyes. "He is playing well and scoring goals. When the moments come he is taking them."

United will check on the fitness of Dutch striker Robin van Persie, who has been struggling with toe and groin injuries and missed the trip to Tottenham. Midfielder Michael Carrick is definitely out as he recovers from a calf-shin injury.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez does not think his players will go to Old Trafford with the fear they might have had in previous seasons.

Moyes previously stated whenever he took his Everton side to face United on their own turf his objective was "to get out of Old Trafford alive" and perhaps inevitably the Scot never won there as an opposition manager.

Everton fans would have to think back to August 1992 for the team's last victory at Old Trafford, when it won 3-0 during Howard Kendall's second spell in charge.

But Martinez insisted there was no sense of trepidation among his squad ahead of the match.

"These are games that we are not expected to win, but clearly if we want to achieve something special we need to be able to break the mentality of going to the big grounds and get some wins," he said.

"Over the last 10 years we have not beaten Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool at their own grounds and we need to address that.

"We need to know how we are going to play and who we are. That is a fantastic test and challenge to have on Wednesday. We are excited about going to Old Trafford."

Everton has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match, with former United midfielder Darron Gibson (knee), defender Leighton Baines (ankle) and striker Arouna Kone (knee) missing.

(China Daily 12/04/2013 page23)

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