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English Premiership

Vieira expecting United backlash

LONDON, February 11- Patrick Vieira is expecting Manchester United to be even more fired up than usual for their derby match against his Manchester City side at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Premier League leaders United’s shock loss to relegation-threatened Wolves ended their unbeaten run and dreams of an ‘invincible’ season.

It also allowed second-placed Arsenal, who squandered a 4-0 lead in a 4-4 draw at Newcastle, to close to within four points with City, who are third, five points off top spot.

"We must expect a backlash and a battle," Vieira told Abu Dhabi-based paper The National.

"Big clubs like United always talk about the importance of never losing two times in a row," the veteran France midfielder added. "They will want to bounce back to winning ways immediately."

His words were echoed by City assistant manager David Platt, who said: "We can’t go to Old Trafford, win the match, and then hope that a team which has never capitulated under pressure in ten or 12 years of the Premier League will do so.

"We should be hoping to do something we can control, which is win every football match we play between now and the end of the season.

"That’s a tall order but you take each game as it comes, and that starts at Old Trafford. If we can take the three points we will take them.

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"But we aren’t looking over the road and thinking that dressing room, with the experience it has got, and the winners it has got, will capitulate just because it loses a game," Platt told the Manchester Evening News.

Much will depend on former United striker Carlos Tevez, who has scored 18 league goals so far this season, one short of the tally of new Old Trafford favourite Dimitar Berbatov.

Relegation-haunted Wolves meanwhile will look to add Arsenal to a list of scalps that already includes Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and United this season.

The Gunners are bound to be still smarting from their remarkable match at Newcastle and Wolves defender Ronald Zubar said: "I know a bit about Arsenal with there being some French players there.

"They were very disappointed about the draw with Newcastle and having been 4-0 up it felt like a loss.

"They will want to put that right by beating us and it’s their home game with the chance to show something positive to their fans.

"But we’ve just beaten Manchester United and can go to the Emirates and try to get another positive result.

"Last year we played very well at Arsenal but conceded in the last minute.

"Again we can learn from that but it is never easy against Arsenal because they can score at any moment."

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Basement club West Ham will know before they kick-off away to fellow strugglers West Brom, managerless after the sacking of Roberto di Matteo, if they’ve beaten Tottenham Hotspur to take over London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium once next year’s Games are over.

Spurs, still pushing for a Champions League spot, are away to Sunderland while Newcastle will look to build on their stunning rally against Arsenal when they travel to Blackburn.

Aston Villa will hope Darren Bent and Ashley Young, England’s goal-scorers in a 2-1 midweek friendly win against Denmark in Copenhagen, can bring their international form back to the club scene against Blackpool.

Sunday’s match is an all north-west encounter between Bolton and Everton while champions Chelsea, currently 10 points behind United, will look to keep their ailing title hopes alive in a west London derby against Fulham on Monday.

Fixtures (1500GMT unless stated)

Saturday: Arsenal v Wolves, Birmingham v Stoke, Blackburn v Newcastle, Blackpool v Aston Villa, Liverpool v Wigan, Manchester United v Manchester City (1245GMT), Sunderland v Tottenham (1730GMT), West Brom v West Ham

Sunday: Bolton v Everton (1600GMT)

Monday: Fulham v Chelsea (2000GMT)

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