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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson: Liverpool plight is no distraction

Sir Alex Ferguson claimed he was not bothered about following Liverpool yet again in the Premier League title race - now he might revise his opinion.

Liverpool's amazing 4-4 draw with Arsenal at Anfield might have taken them back above Manchester United.

But Ferguson knows the advantage is very much with the Red Devils, who entertain Portsmouth at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

"It doesn't matter when Liverpool play," said Ferguson. "We are focused enough on what we have got to do."

What United need to do is bounce back from Sunday's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Everton and get the victory that will take them three points clear, with a game in hand and only six remaining to play.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar are all set to return, along with Ryan Giggs, who went to Wembley at the weekend but did not even merit a place on the substitutes' bench.

And certainly the incentive is now there for United to shrug off the disappointment of exiting the FA Cup.

"You have to overcome defeats at some points in a season," reflected Ferguson.

"In most cases we do all right. We lost two in a row against Liverpool and Fulham but since then we have beaten Aston Villa, Porto and Sunderland.

"We only lost the semi-final on penalties and that can happen to anyone. There is enough motivation to ensure we will be OK against Portsmouth."

Quite apart from the three points, it promises to be a memorable night for Paul Scholes, who is set to become only the fourth United player to make 600 appearances for the club.

"At United, you can go back to the Best, Law and Charlton era," said Ferguson. "Before that you have Duncan Edwards.

"You are talking a wide panorama of players. But in my time he would be in the top six or seven without a doubt.

"His contribution and quality have been great, even without the fantastic goals he has scored.

"When he came on against Everton on Sunday, his first touch was better than anyone else's had been in the whole previous hour.

"He has that wonderful velvet touch on the ball. When he gets it, it goes stone dead. It is wonderful to see that amidst all the mayhem that can happen in a football match."

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