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Dec 15, 2010

Rio apologises for Sagna challenge

Rio Ferdinand has apologised to Bacary Sagna following Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Arsenal, after he left the Frenchman with stud marks across his abdomen.

• Fergie rejects pitch criticism
• Wales want Giggs return

United were relatively comfortable in Monday's Old Trafford encounter, only suffering one major scare when Edwin van der Sar parried Samir Nasri's second-half effort to Marouane Chamakh. Nemanja Vidic eventually extinguished the danger as he combined with Ferdinand to marshal the United defence to a deserved clean sheet.

However, the England captain was in danger of failing to stay on the pitch during the second half of the top-of-the-table showdown, following a collision with Arsenal defender Sagna.

The incident saw Ferdinand catch Sagna with his studs when leaping for a header. Arsenal felt the United man's challenge had been malicious, with Cesc Fabregas particularly vocal, but Ferdinand protested his innocence, claiming it was an unfortunate collision.

Ferdinand has now issued an apology to Sagna, although he remains adamant there was no ulterior motive to his challenge.

"I never meant to kick Sagna," Ferdinand wrote on his Twitter page. "I went for the ball. Accidents do happen. Sorry for that."

Meanwhile, Vidic has predicted one of the top four will drop out of the title race by January because they will not be able to match Manchester United's pace.

Three points are all that currently separate the top four teams in the table, but that gap could extend to six if United beat Chelsea this weekend. The Red Devils have been inconsistent in the early part of the season, drawing seven league games, but Vidic claims United are about to hit their stride with fixtures against Sunderland, Birmingham, West Brom and Stoke on the horizon.

"I think this is the time in the season when the table is going to change quite a bit," Vidic said in the Daily Star. "We saw last season how competitive the Premier League is, and it's even more so this year. Every team has raised their game and the quality has improved.

"Things have been very tight up to now, but I think that we'll see two or three teams stepping it up and stretching ahead. That's what has happened over the last few years. I think by the middle of January we'll have much more of an idea as to who is going to be chasing for the title."

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