MICHAEL CARRICK believes Manchester United's impressive array of goalscorers makes them a clear and present danger to the Premier League's elite.
After stretching their lead at the top to seven points thanks to their win against Southampton on Wednesday, United head to Fulham tomorrow night looking to widen the gap even further on a Manchester City side that entertain Liverpool on Sunday.
It shouldn't prove too much of a problem given the limited resistance Fulham put up in the FA Cup last weekend, and since then Wayne Rooney has taken his tally to nine goals in nine games.
With Robin van Persie (inset) already through the 20-goal barrier, Javier Hernandez closing in fast and Danny Welbeck making a valuable contribution even though he has only found the net once, quite apart from Rooney's exploits, it is little wonder Carrick is feeling so pleased with the present situation.
"It is good to have your strikers banging the goals in," he said.
"It means we are providing a constant threat.
"If it is not Robin it's Danny, if it's not him it is Wayne and if it is not him it is Javier who keep turning it round and scoring enough goals to win us the games."
Not that everything in the United garden is rosy.
Their second-half display at Old Trafford was a major let-down, with even Alex Ferguson accepting his side were fortunate to collect maximum points.
Carrick knows it was not good enough. But he expects a significant improvement at Fulham.
"We can improve on the performance, and I am sure we will do that on Saturday," he said.
It is a matter of frustration for United's rivals that Ferguson's team should put further daylight between them all with their latest success given they performed so poorly.
Indeed, a pattern has developed which leads to two vastly differing conclusions.
One is that such good luck and defensive frailty cannot last forever, the other that if United emerge from a performance like that with their status enhanced, there is no chance of them being denied a record 20th championship.
Evidently, within the Old Trafford camp, the latter view holds sway, with skipper Nemanja Vidic insisting there are days when the only thing that matters is the result.
"Sometimes you have to show your character when things are not happening," said Vidic.
"Sometimes you have games where you just have to win.
"All the other teams drew their games, so we are in a good position now."