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Manchester United's victory kept them one point clear of Manchester City at the summit and Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted with an improved defensive performance. The Red Devils will now be looking to push on when they travel to the Madejski Stadium for Saturday's teatime clash with Reading. Brian McDermott has insisted there is no need to panic after a 1-0 defeat by Aston Villa kept the Royals four points adrift of safety, as he believes they are still in a 'great situation' considering how far they have come over the past couple of years. The Royals’ two previous encounters with Sir Alex Ferguson’s men at the Madejski Stadium have returned one point for the hosts - a 1-1 draw in September 2006 which was followed by a 2-0 defeat on United’s next visit.
• Reading have now conceded more second-half goals (18) than any other team in the Premier League this season, 16 of which have come in the final 30 minutes.
• Man Utd are unbeaten in their last 18 Premier League matches against promoted clubs (15 W) since a 1-0 defeat at Burnley in August 2009. In total, they have lost only 11 of 122 Premier League matches against promoted clubs.
Brian McDermott will be without long-term injury victims Jem Karacan and Alex McCarthy once again, although Danny Guthrie is back in training and could come into contention for a recall. Jimmy Kebe will be hoping to return from a recent groin problem but McDermott sounded pessimistic on his chances of being involved against United. The Royals boss sprung a surprise in defence in midweek, with Kaspars Gorkss and Chris Gunter replaced by Adrian Mariappa and Shaun Cummings at centre-half and right-back respectively; he could well keep that back four setup, having praised them despite defeat at Villa.
A Federici • S Cummings, A Mariappa, S Morrison, N Shorey • J McAnuff, J Tabb, M Leigertwood, H Robson-Kanu • J Roberts, A le Fondre
Sir Alex Ferguson will be without wingers Nani and Luis Antonio Valencia for the trip to Wigan. The former is set to be sidelined for at least another month with his hamstring injury, while Valencia's hip problem is clearing up and he could return to contention for the clash with City next weekend. Elsewhere, both Nick Powell and Ryan Giggs are minor doubts with a virus and a hamstring problem respectively. With his wingers unavailable, the United boss could continue with the diamond formation utilised against West Ham in midweek, with Wayne Rooney sitting behind Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez. Rio Ferdinand was rested against the Hammers but is expected to return with Chris Smalling making way.
A Lindegaard • Rafael da Silva, R Ferdinand, J Evans, P Evra • M Carrick • Anderson, T Cleverley • W Rooney • R van Persie, J Hernandez