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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Fergie geared up for derby

Sir Alex Ferguson has reported that Manchester United have no fresh injury worries and are fully prepared ahead of their Premier League showdown with Manchester City on Monday.

• Mancini curbs expectations
• Nani: United will respond
• First XI: Title clashes
• Rewind to 1937: Blue rules Manchester

United have the odd long-term absentee, such as Nemanja Vidic, Anderson and Darren Fletcher, but those who have been relied upon all season are fit for the trip to the Etihad.

Victory for United would all but seal the title with just two more games to play, while defeat would put City firmly in the driving seat.

Ferguson faces the job of boosting his team's morale after their 4-4 draw with Everton last week, which saw them throw away a 4-2 lead with less than ten minutes remaining. The Red Devils' manager spoke confidently, though, pointing out that United rarely make life easy for themselves in trophy-winning seasons. It is that history and experience, clearly, that Ferguson plans to fall back on against a City side looking to win their first Premier League crown.

"We don't have any injury problems - that's a good position to be in during this important week," Ferguson said. "I suppose when the fixture list came out at the start of the season, everyone pointed to this match. It's been inevitable.

"It'll be a fantastic atmosphere. I hope it lives up to the billing. We're smarting from throwing that game away last week, but we always make things difficult for ourselves - our supporters are used to the drama."

On the derby, he added: "You would have to be a confirmed masochist to enjoy it, but we are looking forward to it and the players will be fully prepared for it.

"We have to get used to playing Manchester City in important games. They are not going away. The support they have means we are going to be playing them in a lot of big games - finals, maybe. We already have done in semi-finals, an important cup tie this season.

"If we are going to be contesting for league titles regularly - and I think we will be doing - it will become just as important as the Liverpool game. Maybe not in terms of emotion because the Liverpool-United games are emotional, but there is certainly an importance which, at this moment in time, supersedes the Liverpool games.

"They are our direct opponents now. Manchester City are up against us to win titles. That is what our focus is on, the team who can stop us winning."

Roberto Mancini has repeatedly insisted City are out of the title race, but Ferguson says he is not worried by the mind games.

"Maybe he is trying to take pressure off his own players, but it doesn't matter," Ferguson said. "It is not going to affect our approach or attitude to the game. We know the exact situation we are in here.

"We are in a better position than Manchester City. We can get two results, they can only get one. They have to win. We can draw or we can win, which is what we will be trying to do."

City, meanwhile, are also expecting no fresh injury concerns, with Micah Richards set to win his fitness battle ahead of Monday's encounter.

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