Manchester United utility man Phil Jones believes title rivals Manchester City could feel the pace as they enter a crucial stage of the season.
Having lost 2-1 at Napoli on Tuesday night, a result which leaves them on the brink of Champions League elimination, City have stuttered in their first test of a challenging few weeks.
On Sunday, they travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool and face a trip to Arsenal in the Carling Cup quarter-finals two days later. Following a home game with Norwich next weekend they entertain Bayern Munich in the Champions League - a game they must win and hope Villarreal get something against Napoli.
Stamford Bridge and a clash with Chelsea awaits City on Monday, December 12. A second game against Arsenal, in the Premier League at Eastlands, is up on December 18.
"City have done fantastically this season,'' Jones said. "I am not taking anything away from them. But they do have some tough games coming up.
"I don't care how good you are, teams can be put under pressure. This is a difficult league to be in. It would be nice to reach top spot by Christmas. But it is not essential. Don't be writing us off if we are not there by January.''
It was Jones' own goal which gave Benfica an early lead in a game which United drew 2-2 at Old Trafford on Tuesday. But the former Blackburn man is putting that to the back of his mind.
"It happens,'' Jones said. "Own goals happen to the best of players. It is just one of those situations where the ball ends up in the back of the net.
"What can you do? It is an unfortunate reaction and the ball has ended up in the back of the net. I am not going to let my head drop. You win some, you lose some and then you get on with it. Apart from that I thought I played reasonably well.''