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Man United aiming for top spot without Rooney

 Manchester United's Wayne Rooney reacts after scoring a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford ...
 Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, right, reacts after scoring a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Wigan Athletic at Old T...
 Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, right, reacts after scoring a goal past Wigan Athletic's keeper Chris Kirkland, left, during their English Premier ...

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Manchester United's Wayne Rooney reacts after scoring a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford ...

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Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, right, reacts after scoring a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Wigan Athletic at Old T...

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Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, right, reacts after scoring a goal past Wigan Athletic's keeper Chris Kirkland, left, during their English Premier ...

Manchester United has to show it can do better than Liverpool did without its star striker if it is to overtake its Premier League rival at the top of the standings on Saturday.
With Liverpool hosting Everton on Monday, the defending champions can take first place for the first time this season with victory at Bolton but will have to do it without Wayne Rooney, who is out for three weeks after injuring his hamstring on Wednesday.
Although Liverpool stayed in first place after winning three and drawing three of the six league matches that Fernando Torres missed in December because of a hamstring problem, the points it dropped have allowed United to close to within two points with a game in hand.
After nine Premier League games without conceding a goal, United has few worries in defense but has to prove it can keep scoring without Rooney, who hit his ninth United goal of the season in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Wigan.
The pressure of nine games in 30 days is starting to tell, with Rooney's replacement against Wigan, Carlos Tevez, and defender Jonny Evans _ himself a stand-in for Rio Ferdinand _ also injured.
"Carlos limped through the second half and Jonny limped through virtually the whole game," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "We will have to assess them and see how they are. We need our best team on Saturday because Bolton are a big side."
Bolton has lost to Chelsea, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Arsenal in its past seven games, but was only beaten 1-0 by the Gunners last week after conceding in the 84th.
Bolton manager Gary Megson sent a team depleted by injuries and suspension to defend against Arsenal but may be forced to take a more adventurous approach on Saturday with the game at home _ which could be to United's advantage.
Ferguson may push Cristiano Ronaldo up front alongside Dimitar Berbatov to unsettle the Trotters with the Portugal winger's pace and trickery. Ronaldo scored 42 goals last season but has been restricted to the wing more this season following the signing of Berbatov.
Megson isn't expecting to take much from the game and was already looking elsewhere for the points that would keep his team safe from relegation.
"The tough games come thick and fast in the Premier League and next we've got Manchester United," Megson said. "But once we get them out of the way we have only got Chelsea away, and that's the top four done, barring Aston Villa at home.
"We've got a good run-in and I don't think we will have any problems."
If United wins, Liverpool could be a point back in second place by the time it hosts its city rival on Monday.
Everton has not won at Anfield for 10 years but has won five of its past six matches to rise to sixth place and some players are still smarting from the teams' first meeting this season.
Torres scored twice to give Liverpool a 2-0 win at Goodison in September, but midfielder Tim Cahill was given what looked to be a harsh red card for a foul on Xabi Alonso.
Chelsea has slipped to third place after beating only Bolton and last-place West Bromwich Albion in its last eight Premier League games but has the chance for a morale-boosting three points against visiting Stoke on Saturday.
The Blues rallied to win 4-1 at Southend in an FA Cup replay on Wednesday and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari could largely stick with a winning team, again leaving Didier Drogba on the sidelines.
Joe Cole, though, was hurt Wednesday and is likely to miss out.
Also Saturday, fourth-place Aston Villa is at Sunderland, Newcastle is at Blackburn, Wigan is at Manchester City, and Middlesbrough is at West Brom.
Fulham is at West Ham on Sunday, when Tottenham hosts Portsmouth in a match likely to be tense because of the teams' fight against relegation and a simmering rivalry.
Spurs sold several players to Pompey over the past three years before hiring its manager and star striker this season, while police were involved in the investigation of racial and homophobic abuse directed at Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell, a former Tottenham player, at the reverse fixture in September.
While both teams have appealed to fans not to misbehave, Portsmouth goalkeeper David James said fans are entitled to heckle opposition players.
"You pay your way and you are entitled to your opinion. As long as it is not racist or homophobic, give stick," James said. "It is football. You can't all be happy chaps going around saying everyone's wonderful."
Wolverhampton Wanderers has not won in three League Championship matches but goes into Saturday's match at Bristol City in confident mood after beating promotion rival Birmingham 2-0 in the FA Cup on Tuesday.
Birmingham, which is seven points behind leaders Wolves, hosts Cardiff, while second-place Reading is at Swansea.


Updated : 2021-05-11 23:14 GMT+08:00