Ferguson sets title points target
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has a feeling 82 points
will be enough to secure the Premier League title this season.
Not since his own side completed their first championship hat-trick in 2001 has a team finished top with such a relatively minimal amount.
United won it with 83 in 2003 but, thanks first to Arsene Wenger's 'Invincibles' and then the staggering consistency Chelsea achieved under Jose Mourinho, the bar has been raised far higher in recent times.
Ferguson thinks this season is going to be different. A title picture that contained seven teams last weekend has been trimmed somewhat after four of the contenders failed to overcome opposition from far lower in the table - in a week when Chelsea put seven past Sunderland, Arsenal roared back from two goals adrift against Bolton and United overcame Burnley's stern resistance.
But Ferguson believes the main contenders will also continue to drop points.
"It could be the lowest points total for a while, possibly as low as 82," he said.
"There may be a change in that but I don't see it because it is such a tough league.
"In any event, we are going to have to put our foot down."
With United's tilt at the FA Cup over at an unusually early stage, their clash with Hull on Saturday represents a chance to reach the Premier League summit, even if they will have played two more matches than Chelsea and one more than current leaders Arsenal.
Victory is even more important because of the matches that follow. Next Sunday, United head to Arsenal looking to record a league double over Arsene Wenger's in-form side, having already beaten them on home soil in August.
Seven days after that, the Gunners visit Chelsea. Given the present state of play, a couple of away wins - or a draw at Stamford Bridge - would suit Ferguson fine.
He accepts should Arsenal win both matches, they will suddenly be on course to end a five-year title drought dating back to the Invincibles year, which in itself would be quite a feat given Wenger's men were being written off totally two months ago after being hammered at home by Chelsea for the second successive year.
"Arsenal themselves said it was a difficult time for them after they lost to Chelsea. They were well beaten that particular day," said Ferguson.
"But they have proved that when teams start to win games, that consistency can get you back to the top of the league.
"They will feel they are in with a great chance now and with the games coming up over the next few weeks, it is going to be interesting."