Ryan Giggs believes Manchester United's upcoming fixtures against title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City could be crucial to their hopes of defending the Premier League.
United face Chelsea, City and Liverpool in three of their next four league matches and next Monday's trip to Stamford Bridge could give Jose Mourinho's side a break at the top after they moved into first place following Wednesday's win over Aston Villa.
Giggs believes his side can ill afford to drop points in the next month, insisting Mourinho's first tenure at Chelsea was characterised by blistering starts to the season.
"When Mourinho was at Chelsea, they obviously got off to good starts and we didn't manager to catch them,"Giggs said. "It has been well documented that we have a tough start but you like to get off to a good start. We got a good win at Swansea on Saturday and hopefully we can carry that on.
But United defender Rio Ferdinand believes his side should be more concerned about clashes with long standing rivals Liverpool and City than next week's match at Old Trafford.
"You look forward to playing every time you step out at Old Trafford," he said. "It is a special place to play. We all appreciate playing there in front of our home fans and we try to put on a show.
"But the Liverpool and Manchester City games are usually hyped up a bit more than anyone else, so the feeling after winning one of those games is probably the biggest of the season."