With Manchester United and Arsenal each seeking to overcome huge disappointments, the Premier League title race continues with three midweek matches.
Nemanja Vidic urges Manchester United to forget City defeat
With Manchester United and Arsenal each seeking to overcome huge disappointments, the Premier League title race continues with three midweek matches that could go a long way to determining the destination of the title.
And Arsenal face Tottenham Hotspur in Wednesday's north London derby trying to get over the injury-time penalty equaliser that earned Liverpool a 1-1 draw on Sunday to leave the Gunners six points behind United in second place.
United are still strong favourites to win the Premier League but cannot afford to relax just yet.
"It doesn't matter when you play, you know you've got to recover and get on a winning streak again," Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said.
Newcastle could be the perfect opponents for United, who will be without the suspended Paul Scholes after his red card against City at Wembley Stadium. United are unbeaten in 17 matches against Newcastle since September 2001 and the Magpies will be without their suspended captain Kevin Nolan, who has scored 12 league goals this season.
"I hate watching, but I just try and give the lads as much support as I can," Nolan said. "It's going to be tough, but we fancy ourselves against anyone at St James' [Park] and it's going to be rocking."
United have Wayne Rooney available again after a two-game suspension and the England striker could replace Dimitar Berbatov, who missed two good chances against City.
"We must forget the City game now and concentrate on winning the title," Nemanja Vidic, the United captain, said. "It will not be easy but we have to perform, play good football and try to win the league."
Arsenal's dramatic draw with Liverpool, in which they scored a penalty in the eighth minute of injury time before conceding one themselves in four minutes later, means they have dropped six points from their last three home matches.
Arsene Wenger, their manager, blamed Andre Mariner, the referee, Liverpool's defensive tactics and gamesmanship by the Brazil midfielder Lucas for Arsenal's latest setback, but his team failed to create the chances their domination of possession merited.
Tottenham have already won 3-2 at Arsenal this season and beat the Gunners 2-1 in last season's corresponding fixture.
Spurs rested at the weekend following last week's Champions League exit to Real Madrid and chase a victory to move level on points with fourth-placed Manchester City, who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot.
Tottenham beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City in a tricky final few games last season to make the European tournament for the first time and may have to do the same to have any chance this time around.
"We know if we win every game left in the league, which is going to be difficult, then we'll be in the top four again," Tom Huddlestone, the Spurs midfielder, said. "It's similar to last year. We've got to play Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City. By the looks of it, it might boil down to the City game again, so hopefully we can go there and do similar to what we did last season."
Tottenham's Gareth Bale was named Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year on Sunday night.
The 21-year-old winger was voted as England's best player over the course of the season by his peers, beating six other shortlisted players to the award.
Bale has been in good form in the Premier League this campaign and performed admirably in the Champions League, which he believes he can grace again next season with Spurs.
"I think with playing for Wales, the Champions League is probably going to be the highest level I will be playing at the moment," he said. "It is important for me to be playing at the highest level and playing against the best players to improve and to test myself. And I think that is the most important thing now for us this season.
"The Champions League is still wide open for us and hopefully we can get it."
Bale was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year, but that award went to Jack Wilshere of Arsenal.
Newcastle v Man United, 10.45pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 5