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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 00:35 GMT
Ferguson focused on Arsenal
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Van Nistelrooy got his 26th of the season at St Andrews
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson immediately turned his attention to title rivals Arsenal after his side beat Birmingham 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the only goal at St Andrews to give United a sixth successive league win, and cut the gap at the top of the table to just three points.

And Ferguson is relishing the next round of matches, which sees Arsenal travel to Newcastle and United host Manchester City.

The difference was Ruud

Sir Alex Ferguson,
Man Utd boss

"This weekend should now be very interesting because, with only three points in it, Arsenal have to go to Newcastle," he said.

"We got to within a point of Arsenal before Christmas and then lost two on the trot. If we get to within a point of them again I don't think we'll slip up.

"If we did we know there'd be no way back then.

"We're playing well and we have to stay on Arsenal's coat tails and not let them go this time around."

Ferguson had kind words for his former player Steve Bruce - now in charge at Birmingham - and insisted the Premiership new boys can avoid relegation.

"I thought it was going to be a very difficult game here and Birmingham showed great enthusiasm and were very committed," said Ferguson.

"The difference was Ruud. He turned on the ball very quickly and his goal has got us three points which was the most important thing.

"At the moment that is six wins on the trot for us and we have to get everything we can on the board because this season the race for the title is going to go right to the end.

"We knew we would have to work very hard tonight and Steve Bruce has done very well here and has got a very committed bunch of players."

Bruce could not fault his side's effort but admitted they could not handle the class of Van Nistelrooy.

"We gave a good account of ourselves and there were plenty of plus points," he said. "We were disappointed not to nick a point.

"But we were very disappointed with the goal because I don't remember our keeper having to make a save.

"The one thing we have got to eradicate is making elementary mistakes - and if you do it at this level you are going to get punished.

"But you are talking about Ruud van Nistelrooy, who is one of the best in the business and he comes alive in the penalty area."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Manchester United's Gary Neville
"We can keep putting pressure on Arsenal"
BBC Five Live's John Murray
"Van Nistelrooy was the real match winner"

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05 Feb 03 | Football
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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