London: It may have come too late to make them realistic challengers for the title, but Manchester United have at least played themselves into contention for a top-four place in recent weeks.
David Moyes’ side have won their last six encounters in all competitions, including four in the Premier League.
Such form has elevated the champions up to sixth and depending on other results, the United could move up to fourth in the league table if they claim all three points from Wednesday’s home clash with Tottenham Hotspur.
United could be without star striking duo of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. They, however, will give a late fitness test to Rooney, manager David Moyes said.
Rooney missed the 1-0 win at Norwich City on Saturday due to a groin injury.
“We need to wait and see,” Moyes said. “Rooney didn’t train today so we’ll assess him tomorrow and see how he is.”
Striker Robin van Persie will miss the Spurs game as he continues his recovery from a thigh problem.
“Van Persie is not quite ready yet, but hopefully he’s not too far away,” Moyes said.
It means United will be relying on in-form Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez as their strikers when they look to extend their present winning run to seven matches.
Portuguese winger Nani will play no part because of a hamstring injury and the match is likely to come too soon for Phil Jones, who is nursing a knee injury.
Moyes is expecting a tough game against Spurs.
“Tottenham have always been difficult opponents no matter who the manager has been,” Moyes said. “They have a really good side, spend well and always try to reward the manager with the players required. They have either been in the Champions League or pushing for it and have always been a good, strong team.”
In another match, Arsenal can complete a quick double over manager-less Cardiff City and consolidate their position at the top of the table.
With the campaign at the halfway mark after 19 matches, Arsenal, with 42 points, lead the table at the start of the new year for the first time since the 2007-08 season. They are followed by Manchester City (41), Chelsea (40) and Everton (37).
The race is so close that Liverpool, who were top at Christmas, are now fifth on 36 points after two defeats in four days at Manchester City and Chelsea.
Brendan Rodgers’ side, who are at home to Hull City, are only two points clear of both United and Spurs.
But things won’t be easy for Arsenal. They will be without midfielders Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, defender Kieran Gibbs and striker Olivier Giroud for the match and have doubts over five other players.
Manager Arsene Wenger said the Premier League leaders had yet to receive a specialist’s report on Ozil’s shoulder injury and that Ramsey would be out for three more weeks with a thigh strain.
The pair both missed the 1-0 league win at Newcastle United on Sunday.
Giroud, who scored the only goal at Newcastle, will miss out against Cardiff because of an ankle injury and left back Gibbs has a calf problem.