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Football | Barclays Premier League

'United won't take title for granted'



Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck insists his side will not become complacent after establishing a commanding lead in the Premier League title race.

United's dramatic 3-2 victory over second-placed Manchester City last Sunday, when Robin van Persie's stoppage winner settled an absorbing derby at Eastlands, saw Alex Ferguson's side go six points clear at the summit.

The pulsating win ended City's unbeaten run in the league this season and inflicted a first home league defeat on the champions since December 2010.

With City facing a tricky game at Newcastle, United could extend their lead further if they overcome struggling Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday.

And United's England striker Welbeck is confident his teammates won't rest on their laurels ahead of a busy festive programmme.

"Games come thick and fast and it's important if you're picking up the pace over Christmas," said Welbeck. "It's a vital period and a time all the boys look forward to.

"It was satisfying to win last weekend. To go six points clear and to do it in a Manchester derby was a great boost for us. We won't be too complacent, though. Every single point counts."

United have won their last four league games since losing 1-0 at Norwich on November 17. And England winger Ashley Young is determined that Ferguson's team extend their winning run through the Christmas schedule.

"There are so many games and if you can get momentum you can take that into the new year," Young said.

"Teams can drop points and as long as you keep picking up points home and away that's what's important. You have to be on your toes and be ready for the challenge.

"If you can pick up points on Boxing Day it makes Christmas even better."

United are hopeful that Wayne Rooney will be available after the striker had to pull out of a book signing on Tuesday due to illness.

It is thought that the issue is not serious and Rooney should be fit to face Sunderland.

On Tuesday Rooney tweeted: "Not feeling good at all. Had to cancel the book signing today. Sorry to all the fans who were coming. I was really looking forward to it."

The England striker has recently enjoyed a resurgence in form, including two goals in the 4-3 win at Reading on December 1 and the opening two in the derby win at City.

Meanwhile, Sunderland lifted the mounting pressure on manager Martin O'Neill with a comfortable 3-0 victory over fellow strugglers Reading in midweek to climb out of the bottom three.

It is likely to be a short respite however, with only the most staunch supporter expecting rare back-to-back wins under the Irishman as the Wearside club go in search of a first victory at Old Trafford since 1968, a run spanning 25 games.

Despite O'Neill being forced to deny rumours he had offered to resign last month during a disastrous sequence that saw just two victories in 23 Premier League games, the Sunderland squad insist they're firmly behind their manager.

"To be honest, the talk about the manager had no influence on the dressing room," Spanish defender Carlos Cuellar said.

"From the manager through to the chairman, they have shown their confidence in the team. No-one has really said anything about it."

O'Neill is without injured skipper Lee Cattermole and former Manchester United defender Wes Brown.

There are also doubts over Adam Johnson, Danny Rose and Phil Bardsley, who all came off with knocks against Reading.

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