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Giggs points way ahead for United

Ryan Giggs feels Manchester United could be on the verge of a traditional burst of form over the festive period to put themselves right back in the Premier League title race.

sports Updated: Dec 25, 2008 10:20 IST

Ryan Giggs feels Manchester United could be on the verge of a traditional burst of form over the festive period to put themselves right back in the Premier League title race.

Sir Alex Ferguson's English champions return to domestic action against Stoke on Friday following their victory in the Club World Cup in Japan.

Despite missing the last round of domestic fixtures due to their commitments in Asia, United are still only seven points behind leaders Liverpool with two games in hand.

Giggs accepts Stoke will be desperate to pull off a shock win as they look to boost their top-flight survival hopes.

But the veteran winger insists Ferguson's men will come through that challenge and push themselves back into title contention in the coming weeks.

"It is December and we have won a trophy already and that should give us the confidence to go into the Christmas period," said the 35-year-old.

"There is no reason why we shouldn't go on a roll. We are focusing our sights on putting together a consistent run that will see us get back on track in the Premier League.

"We are in good form because we have played well in the two matches in Japan so that's good going into the Boxing Day game."

The now retired Wales international added: "It is going to be special for Stoke. It was always going to be some atmosphere there anyway because United going there hasn't happened for a long time.

"They were going to be up for it no matter what. Now that we are World Champions it adds an edge to it. They'll want to beat us even more so now.

"But we have dealt with it before and can do so again."

Wayne Rooney, whose goal against South American champions Liga de Quito saw United win the Club World Cup final, echoed Giggs's view that, with games against the Potters and Middlesbrough to come before the New Year, United could be right back in the mix by the time January comes.

"It's a big game and a big time of the season for us so it's important we pick up the three points," said the England striker.

"We know it'll be tough especially after having only just returned from Japan. But all the games are winnable over Christmas and we're confident we can beat Stoke and Middlesbrough."

Although Patrice Evra begins a four-match suspension on Friday, United will have striker Dimitar Berbatov available for the game at the Britannia Stadium after a virus.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis admits he draws inspiration from Ferguson as he prepares his side for a run of games he believes will shape their season.

"The next six weeks are difficult for us in respect of the fixtures and we have to make sure we come out of it with a decent return of points."

Pulis added: "A couple of wins here, or a couple of defeats there, changes the table so quickly. We just have to keep our feet on the ground.

"Sir Alex has obviously served a club where the pressures are enormous.

"If he ever leaves that blinking club, he will probably go down as the greatest manager they have ever had and one of the greatest ever seen.

"The biggest thing for me is that he always gets the best out of his players and he's working with the best players in the world.

"They can become complacent and soft-bellied, but he's managed to stop that.

"He has also known exactly when to move players on when they are no longer right on their game."

Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen is struggling with a dislocated finger while club captain Andy Griffin is doubtful with a hamstring injury.