Van Persie hails United's team of winners as they edge closer to title
15:35 GMT, 30 March 2013
20:23 GMT, 30 March 2013
Manchester United moved another step closer to the Barclays Premier League title as they won 1-0 at Sunderland, and striker Robin van Persie was quick to praise the attitude of his team-mates.
United are 18 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City as a result and it would take a collapse of dramatic proportions for them to throw the title away.
Van Persie claimed the only goal today, although replays suggested his shot was not going in until Titus Bramble put it into his own net, but the striker was not too concerned.
Almost there: Robin Van Persie celebrates United's win
Get in there: Robin Van Persie celebrates with team-mates
'We got the three points, we knew it would be tough because Sunderland work hard and we had to dig in, but we deserved it,' he told Sky Sports 2.
'It didn't matter who scored today, it was all about the three points.
'This team is full of winners, everyone knows what they have to do and it was never in doubt for me. I was confident we would win.'
A title coronation seems inevitable in
the next couple of weeks and midfielder Michael Carrick is anticipating
winning another medal.
'We played some good football today, even if we didn't get as many goalscoring opportunities as we'd have liked,' he added.
'It was all about coming here and winning. We're getting closer and it's one game less. We have to keep going.'
Keeping an eye on it: Van Persie sees his goal go in off Bramble
Eyes on the ball: Sunderland captain John O' Shea tackles Manchester United's Van Persie
United next face Chelsea in the FA Cup replay on Monday and Van Persie has warned fans not to expect a classic.
It is the kind of scheduling that has England's European counterparts scratching their heads in bewilderment.
And Van Persie points out it is difficult for the players to reach a high level of performance twice in such a short period of time.
'It is not ideal,' he told MUTV.
'Normally on the second day your muscles are quite bad but now we have to play at this certain time.
'It is a shame but we can't do anything about it because there are Champions League games in midweek and Chelsea are still in the Europa League.
'We just have to deal with it.
'People have to realise they can't expect a great game of football because it is not possible.
'If it happens I am glad, but don't expect it because these games are just too close to each other.'
Hectic schedule: Jonny Evans admits United are heading into the unknown during their packed Easter period
Van Persie was speaking after
United's 1-0 win at Sunderland, which maintains their 15-point advantage
over Manchester City with just eight games remaining.
City will be the opponents for
Monday's victors at Stamford Bridge, with Van Persie eager to get his
hands on a trophy he won with Arsenal but United have not lifted since
'It has been a while,' he said.
'It has been nine years since we last won it and we want to win the double.
'We made a big step today but we want to go for both. We have a chance to reach the semi-final against City.'
Jonny Evans admitted Manchester
United will head into the unknown as they attempt to book an FA Cup
semi-final place just 48 hours after strengthening their grip on the
Barclays Premier League title.
Evans said: 'I have never really been in that situation before, so it will be new to probably most of us.
just all about tonight. We will probably go back and get a good
recovery session in and make sure we have done everything we can
physically to make sure we are right for the game on Monday.'
will make the trip to Stamford Bridge hoping for a start after getting
his chance on Wearside as a first-half substitute when full-back Rafael
da Silva limped off.
Smalling moved from central defence to right-back to accommodate the
25-year-old as aUnited defence which had been criticised earlier in the
campaign recorded its sixth successive league clean sheet.
Diving in: Alex Buttner slides in on Sunderland's Simon Mignolet
Asked about the difficulty of
competing with Ferdinand and Vidic for a place in the heart of the back
four, he said: 'You are always competing.
'Even if one of those two isn't fit,
you have got Chris Smalling, who started at centre-back today. I'm sure
he was disappointed to get moved to right-back, it's not his favourite
position, but for the sake of the team, he did that.
Jones is another one. The competition is all over the pitch. You look
at the players who didn't start today or have been left behind – it's
some team, really.'
night's game represents an opportunity to keep hopes of yet another
Double alive with United marching inexorably towards the league title.
recent surge – they have now lost only once in 22 games in all
competitions, and that in controversial circumstances to Real Madrid in
the Champions League – has been based on defensive resilience rather
than attacking flair, and Evans admits it is a pleasant change for the
men at the back to receive the plaudits normally reserved for their
He said with a smile: “You have probably noticed we haven't scored as many goals. It's getting that fine balance.
'We will take it the way we are at the minute. Especially as a defender, it's better to keep clean sheets than having the forwards getting all the glory, I suppose, so we are just happy.
'Clean sheets, that's what we want as defenders, so we are delighted with that.'
Sir Alex Ferguson used the depth of his squad at the Stadium of Light with Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney not even making the 18.
Da Silva must be a doubt after being unable to continue against Sunderland, while Vidic was left clutching his back after a rugged challenge with striker Danny Graham, although he made it through to the final whistle.