Rio wary of usual suspects

14 August 2009 07:37
// A bit of a hack but it works// The article snippet is wrapped onto a second line, even when #article-sub is emptyif( $("div#article-sub").children().length == 0 ) {$("div#article-sub").remove();} Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United's main title challengers will be the established Premier League powers.

The Red Devils begin their campaign for a fourth successive title with Sunday's home meeting against Birmingham City, live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1.

Although local rivals Manchester City have grabbed many of the headlines with their lavish summer spending, defender Ferdinand feels that Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal represent the main threat to Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

"You do assess your rivals," said Ferdinand.

"It has been the same teams over the last few seasons.

"Liverpool were runners-up so they will be there or thereabouts again, the same as Chelsea, who have a new manager with new ideas, while Arsenal have a talented young squad.

"Manchester City have invested heavily, Everton, Aston Villa and maybe Spurs will be up there as well and you might get someone coming out the pack to surprise everyone, like a West Ham.

"In the end I think the top four will be similar to last season but I have to be honest, I could not care less who is up there as long as we are there. I care about Manchester United, it is simple as that."

TalentedFerguson could be forced to draft in some of his emerging youngsters against Birmingham this weekend due to a number of injury concerns.

Nemanja Vidic is definitely out with a calf problem, while his intended replacement Jonny Evans missed Northern Ireland's encounter with Israel this week after suffering an ankle injury.

Wes Brown should be available but has not played for over a fortnight since injuring a thigh during a pre-season tournament in Munich.

Craig Cathcart could be drafted in, while Ferguson would also have the option of using John O'Shea in the centre of his defence and allowing Ritchie De Laet to build on an unexpected Premier League debut at Hull last term.

And, if Ferguson was forced to choose one of his youngsters, Ferdinand would not be concerned in the slightest.

"I have always been a big fan of young players coming into squads," Ferdinand said. "I was there once myself, so you never forget that.

"We have a great number of talented young players. There are loads in and around the first team.

"I am just delighted to be here and see the next budding young players coming through the doors of Manchester United."

Source: SKY_Sports