Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Man United looks to maintain 100% record

AFP , LONDON

Manchester United are determined to continue their perfect start in the English Premiership today and will be hoping local rivals Manchester City can do them a favor by toppling Arsenal.

United, top of the table with two straight wins, travel to Watford, Arsenal go to City while Liverpool host West Ham in their bids not to be left trailing in United's wake.

Champions Chelsea travel to Blackburn tomorrow looking to get their bid for a third straight title back on track after Wednesday's shock 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough.

United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reckons that three years without some Premiership silverware at Old Trafford has fired up his team-mates with a steely determination.

"It's been a really good start. We're young and we've got a fresh squad," said the long-serving Norwegian striker.

"We've had the experience of losing for the past couple of years, and we've lost together and that's put good hunger back into the team and the spirit is fantastic," he said.

But Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd said his team refused to be intimidated by United.

"It will be hard, but if you worry about reputations, you might as well go back into the Championship without even playing the matches," he said.

Solskjaer insisted the Red Devils were concentrating on blazing a trail at the top of the Premiership rather than worrying about Chelsea's progress.

"We don't think about any other results. As long as we play as we can, we'll be winning games," he said.

However, Arsenal skipper Thierry Henry said Chelsea's defeat at Middlesbrough had given everyone plenty to cheer.

"The result is not only good for us. Everyone can look at that result and say, `We can have a go.' We'll see what we can do at Manchester City," he said.

He added that he was not fully fit and may have to content himself with a place on the substitutes' bench at City's Eastlands home.

"Body-wise I'm OK but I've had trouble turning with the ball and putting some pace into it," he said.

"Usually it takes a month or a month-and-a-half to get going. I have to take it slowly and if I can go out there and help the team, I will," Henry said.

Liverpool host West Ham in the first league match at Anfield this season and are determined not to lose further ground.

"People are talking about catching Chelsea, but we know it's going to be really difficult because they are such a good team," said their Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso.

"There's a long way to go and we've only played one game. But we feel confident that we can do things properly this season to mount a challenge," he said.

West Ham have four points from their first two matches.

Everton travel to Tottenham, who put on a classy performance on Tuesday to beat Sheffield United 2-0, with goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Jermaine Jenas.

But Spurs boss Martin Jol said the pair face a race against time to be fit to face the Toffees.

"Berbatov got a knock on his ankle but hopefully he will be OK," the Dutchman said. "JJ did not train on Thursday because he had a problem with his toe. We will have to wait and see but hopefully he will be available."

Charlton have lost both their matches so far, leaving new boss Iain Dowie raring to get stuck into today's visitors Bolton -- who have not won away from home in eight months.

"It's a pressure game, but I can't wait for it. We have not had an ideal start -- but this is where character comes to the fore," he said.

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