Man United targets league lead
With its rivals in FA Cup action this weekend, Manchester United has the opportunity to address its recent disappointing form and retake the Premier League lead.
Defending champion United can leapfrog Arsenal and Chelsea, which both continue to chase a Wembley final appearance with FA Cup matches at Preston and Stoke, if it beats a Hull side it defeated 3-1 a month ago.
United has won just one of its last four matches, lost 2-1 to local rival Manchester City in the League Cup on Tuesday and this week was revealed to be 716.5 million pounds ($1.17 billion) in debt.
So, victory Saturday would lift morale as well as boost chances of a record fourth straight title.
The game against Hull is the only league fixture this weekend and was only made possible by United's elimination from the FA Cup by third-tier Leeds.
United manager Alex Ferguson insists his team played well enough against City to show it can still challenge for the Premier League title.
"We dominated but couldn't get the ball to go in," Ferguson said. "There was some good football. I was pleased. The performance was good."
Arsenal's 4-2 comeback win over Bolton on Wednesday put the Gunners top, leading Chelsea on goals scored and United by a point.
Arsenal is chasing a first league title since 2004 but its attention switches to the FA Cup in one of the weekend's 16 fourth-round games.
Arsenal travels to Stoke on Sunday, when Manchester City is at Scunthorpe.
The Gunners look set to be without Abou Diaby after the midfielder limped out of Wednesday's win with an injury, while injured striker Nicklas Bendtner is set to return to full training next week but is not yet fit to play.
Aston Villa reached its first final since 2000 when it beat Blackburn 6-4 in this week's League Cup semifinals and tries to continue its progress toward another when it hosts Brighton in one of Saturday's 14 FA Cup matches.
The game is one of nine featuring Premier League sides against lower-league opposition, including Fulham at Accrington Stanley, Wigan at Notts County and Tottenham hosting Leeds.
Spurs could be vulnerable to an upset.
While Tottenham's form is erratic, Leeds is cruising at the top of League One and still high after beating traditional rival Manchester United three weeks ago.
"As with the Man U game, we'll go there expecting a good game, hopefully not picking up any injuries and we'll look to give a good account of ourselves," Leeds chairman Ken Bates said. "If we do that, you never know what might happen.
"If we don't get anything, we'll get on with our league campaign."
Tottenham conceded for the first time in seven games when it lost 2-0 at Liverpool in the Premier League this week, but drew two of those games 0-0 and has lost at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke this season.
Also Saturday, League Championship leader Newcastle is at promotion rival West Bromwich Albion as the pair seek a place in the fifth round.
There are just four League Championship matches Saturday, with fourth-place Swansea the highest-placed team in action when it goes to Middlesbrough.