We have edge over City - Smalling
Chris Smalling believes the momentum is with Manchester United as the Red Devils look to take a firm grip on the Barclays Premier League title battle by beating Fulham on Monday night.
While a draw at Stoke in itself is not a bad result, Manchester City's failure to win at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday has left the door open for United to open up a three-point lead on the team who pose the only realistic barrier to a record 20th league championship.
"We may have an edge over City at the minute," said Smalling. "Experience is one thing, momentum is another. We are really building that at the minute. Those are the two things that can really help us push on."
It is difficult to avoid title talk in Manchester, with both red and blue camps optimistic their side will come out on top. Rio Ferdinand alluded to it last week and while Smalling is not about to follow his team-mate's lead in claiming City fans are crawling out of the woodwork, he does hear plenty from those noisy neighbours.
"That it's City just spurs us on even more," he said. "They're making a lot of noise over there and we don't them to win it. You see the table a lot and people are talking about all the fixtures coming up so it is always very much on our minds.
"And the fact we are training four or five days a week for each game builds them up even more in the sense of just how important they are."
Smalling is available to face his old club after finally recovering from the nasty head wound he suffered during England's recent friendly defeat to Holland. He has even ditched the head guard he wore during a comeback against Athletic Bilbao when his stitches opened up.
Meanwhile, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the influence of Ferdinand at Old Trafford. The veteran defender has been written off many times during the past three and a half years, firstly after the extent of his back problems first became evident. He was also discarded by England boss Fabio Capello prior to the Italian's surprise resignation.
This season, though, Ferdinand has excelled.
"He has taken on that role of the influential person in the dressing room. He is great with the players," Ferguson said. "He is still young for a centre-back. In normal terms you would expect a centre back with his athleticism to play well into their thirties anyway."