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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Arsene Wenger's hidden gem

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By ESPN Staff

McAllister happy with Bent price

Aston Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister believes Darren Bent may have been a bargain capture for an initial £18 million in comparison to the other big-name moves during the January transfer window.

Bent, the club's record signing, has made a fine start to his Villa career with two goals in his opening three games to start living up to his price tag, and McAllister believes the signing represents sound financial business after seeing Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll move for £50 million and £35 million respectively.

McAllister said: "Is Darren Bent a bargain at £18 million? Maybe five or six years ago you would have called us all crazy if we were banding these numbers about, but that is the going rate and market forces dictate the price.

"We did our business nice and early in the window and, when you see the prices and transfers at the back end of the transfer window, it looks like a good buy. He is proven in the Premier League, he has been in and around it a long time and he is a natural goal-scorer."

McAllister played with and against some of the best finishers during his illustrious career and believes Bent has the same predatory instincts in front of goal.

He said: "You go back to Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Gary Lineker and the guys I played with for Scotland - Ally McCoist, Mo Johnston, Brian McClair. I don't think you can coach that goalscoring art into someone.

"It is a natural instinct, knowing where to go and arriving at the right time. I saw Michael Owen's goal against Southampton in the FA Cup last weekend and would anyone else have scored that? It is instinct. I don't think you can coach it.

"Sometimes you think, 'How did he wander into such a free space and the ball just arrives?'. It is a sixth sense, it is a definite skill. Darren has that."

McAllister is looking for Villa to put another unbeaten run together, after being beaten by Manchester United in midweek, ahead of Saturday's home clash with Fulham.

"Every game is very difficult in the Premier League," he said. "We take nothing for granted and the preparation for this will be as intense as it was for the trip to Old Trafford, but it is a chance to get a little run going again. We did go five or six games without losing and we want to try to do that again.

"Fulham are a team who have a bit more confidence. They will feel two or three games ago they were in a false position as well, but we are definitely looking forward. There is a group of games now where we would like to get a similar run to the one we had in January.

"We are at home against Fulham so we've got to attack them and try to win the game."

United States midfielder Michael Bradley is included in the squad to face Mark Hughes' side after completing his loan switch from Borussia Monchengladbach. Stewart Downing has shaken off a knock to his shin suffered at Old Trafford, with Luke Young remaining the only long-term injury absentee with his knee problem.

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