LONDON (AP) — Robin van Persie may be enjoying the plaudits as the Premier League’s top scorer this season, but his Manchester United strike partner Wayne Rooney will be looking to extend his own fine run of form at Fulham on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Rooney scored twice in a 2-1 victory over Southampton at Old Trafford on Wednesday, taking his tally to nine goals in as many games as United moved seven points clear of champion Manchester City.
United captain Nemanja Vidic has reminded his team how crucial three points against Fulham could prove in the title race, and will be hoping Van Persie adds to his tally of 18 league goals to date.
“Away games are always hard so we need to think about that. It’s a good position we’re in,” Vidic told the club’s website. “It’s important to win games, especially at this stage of the season, and every game now is important. Nothing is finished yet.”
Fulham goes into the game on the back of a 3-1 home victory over West Ham on Wednesday and could give a debut to Urby Emanuelson, who was signed the following day on loan from AC Milan until the end of the season.
United’s crosstown rival, Manchester City, plays Liverpool on Sunday, when Tottenham takes on West Brom.
Elsewhere, Chelsea travels to Newcastle looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2-2 draw on Wednesday at Reading, where the European champions lead 2-0 until the 87th minute.
Newcastle, meanwhile, secured a 2-1 away triumph against Aston Villa and Alan Pardew’s side look a resurgent force after the arrival of French trio Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy.
Defender Steven Taylor praised their performances after the win against Villa and believes Newcastle can now kick-start what has been a faltering campaign.
“Every one of them put in a great shift,” Taylor said. “Already they have been accepted by the boys. They want to come here and fight it out. The grit they put in (against Aston Villa) is what playing for Newcastle United means.”
Arsenal faces Stoke at the Emirates Stadium where they will look to carry on from their second half display against Liverpool in midweek.
Arsene Wenger’s side was 2-0 down after a woeful first half display, but fought back to save a 2-2 draw thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.
England international Walcott is aware of the stakes as Arsenal bids to finish in the top four.
“We’re at home, we’re very strong and we need to pick up three points rather than a point,” Walcott said. “If we show the performance from the second half (against Liverpool) then I am sure we will beat them.”
Christopher Samba could make his debut for Queens Park Rangers at home to Norwich.
Everton has a home fixture against Villa, Reading plays Sunderland and Wigan faces Southampton, while West Ham will look to improve after their defeat Wednesday in its home match against Swansea.