Michael Carrick is convinced Manchester United are perfectly placed to strike in the Barclays Premier League title race.
The Red Devils cut the gap to two points at the top of the table on Saturday with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Wolves at Old Trafford, and Manchester City's defeat to Chelsea last night - their first of the season - means the Red Devils stay within striking distance.
Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson's side can go top if they win the early kick-off against QPR on Sunday, and Carrick is happy to be leading a chasing pack full of teams who can make a major impact this season.
"City have set the standard and not dropped many points but there's a cluster of clubs behind them which we're heading up, so we're quite happy with the way things have gone," said the England midfielder.
"Of course we'd prefer to be on top but we're actually in a better position than last season and, hopefully, we'll be even closer to them come the end of the year."
On the challengers, Carrick highlighted Spurs and Arsenal as teams who could put runs together, whilst Liverpool are a dangerous outsider in the eyes of the former West Ham starlet.
"We've seen a lot of the big teams move up the table — Tottenham have been on a great run, Arsenal have come on strong and Liverpool are picking up points too," he added.
"It may stay like that for a bit — even going into February or March you can have three or four involved and then it ends up being only two.
"The important thing for us at the moment is making sure we stick close to those teams and, hopefully, get that top spot as soon as we can."
Finally, Carrick reflected on the stunning FA Cup third round draw, which sees United go head-to-head with City at the Etihad Stadium in early January.
After last year's semi-final defeat to the 'noisy neighbours' at Wembley last year, the midfielder is desperate to get revenge on route to claiming the trophy - one he's yet to win in his career thus far.
"It was typical of the Cup for that tie to come out, wasn't it? I'm one of a few players in the dressing room who haven't won the FA Cup and it's a trophy we all really want," concluded the 30-year-old.
"We're fully aware of how big the occasion will be and, while there's an element of wanting to put things right after the last two games against them, we'll just be focused on getting through to the next round. Hopefully, we can do that."
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