Sir Alex Ferguson has told his players goal difference could turn out to be a major factor in this season's Premier League title race.
Normally, Manchester United establish a major advantage in that column, which Ferguson stresses is worth an extra point, playing a psychological role as the campaign draws to its conclusion. But this time round United find themselves trying to chase Chelsea, who have recorded a succession of decisive away wins, giving their goals tally a major boost.
"We have made the point to the players that goal difference could be important," Ferguson said.
"We have to make sure we are the best at that. Over the years we have been but at the moment Chelsea are well ahead of us.
"It gives us a bit of leeway to make up there as well as the points we are behind."
What gives Ferguson grounds for optimism is the fact United will have played most of the Premier League's most dangerous sides on enemy territory before Christmas.
The United boss is suspicious of a fixture list that has given his team away trips after every Champions League match, and internationals.
"We have had a difficult first half of the season in terms of games away from home against all the top teams," he said.
"Having to play away from home after every European tie has not helped either. They say the league is not handicapped. It is this season.
"But it is our intention to get to the new year a couple of points behind the leaders. If we can do that, we have a big chance."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.