Rio gunning for title tilt
Ferdinand tells United to re-enter title race with Arsenal scalp
RIO FERDINAND has called on Manchester United to haul themselves right back into the Premier League title race by beating Arsenal on Sunday.
The Gunners visit Old Trafford eight points ahead of the reigning champions and a loss to Arsene Wenger's side could irreparably damage United's ambitions of retaining the league crown.
The Reds have chipped away at huge leads in the past but so far this season they have failed against heavyweight rivals Chelsea, Liverpool and City, taking just one point from a possible nine.
But veteran defender Ferdinand says United will have to start hit the ground running whether or not they were facing a title rival.
"I don't think we have shown ourselves this season on a consistent basis, not just in the big games. It is time to start putting our foot on the pedal now and motor on," said Ferdinand.
"We have to do that if we want to remain in contention to win the league. To do that we have to get points on the board and that is what we are aiming to do.
"We have to win every game. It doesn't matter what game it is or whoever we play against. Whether it is a top of the league team or not we have to get points. Nothing changes – we expect to win every game we play at home.
"The onus is on us. We have had a few bad results at Old Trafford this season already and we can't continue like that. We have put together a decent run of eight unbeaten games now. People say we have to win this weekend against Arsenal, but it doesn't matter whether it is Cardiff or Swansea or whoever it is – we have to win.
"I don't go for the fact we have to make a statement in this game. It is part and parcel of being a Manchester United player that you have to win your games at home.
"You guys will be thinking about it could be 11 points behind or five points behind but it doesn't matter to us. If we were 10 points clear we'd want to win this game at home. That is not going to change.
"We had a tough start and we're in a position now where we've got some tough games ahead of us but they're all winnable games and I think this team is starting to implement what the manager wants under the new regime.
"If we can continue improving on what we've seen in the last three or four weeks then we'll have a good season. When you get a run of games together, the confidence comes. And when that happens you can be difficult to stop if you get a head of steam and that's our aim. Our intentions are not to concede goals, to score and to be entertaining and hopefully we're on the start of that road."
Arsenal stand in the way of blocking the Reds' unbeaten momentum. After an opening day defeat at home to Aston Villa that saw the Gunners savaged by critics and fans alike, the transfer deadline signing of £43million German star Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid has transformed the team.
The midfielder's arrival has inspired a recovery that has witnessed them scale the summit of the table. "Arsenal are in a good vein of form at the moment. They had a good win against Liverpool last weekend. They are the team to catch," added Ferdinand. "We have to make sure we are right and ready for the challenge. Arsenal have been impressive. If we are going to win on Sunday we are going to have to play well.
"Ozil has had a big impact. He has lifted the players around him. I think you can see he's gone in there at Arsenal and everyone has said: 'We need to lift our levels to get up with him because he's that good a player'.
"If you look at the statistics in the last four or five years and the number of assists he's had, that tells you all you need to know – he's a fantastic player. I played against him twice last season when he was at Real Madrid and he was so impressive. He gets between the lines. He's done it from wide and central positions for Real Madrid and he's doing it now from a central position for Arsenal.
"We've got a couple of players in our team who can pose those sort of problems for other teams so I know in training how difficult it can be to pick up those players but it's about the team being compact enough not to give those spaces."