David Moyes demanded that Manchester United stop their season from spiralling out of control when the struggling champions face Newcastle on Saturday.
United manager Moyes endured a dispiriting evening at Old Trafford on Wednesday as his former club Everton stole a 1-0 victory thanks to a late goal from Bryan Oviedo.
The shock defeat left Moyes’ men languishing in ninth place in the Premier League and trailing leaders Arsenal by 12 points.
It was the latest setback in a troubled start to Moyes’ reign following his appointment as Alex Ferguson’s successor and left their hopes of retaining the title hanging by a slender thread.
United have already lost four times in the league this term after losing just five matches in the entire 38-game campaign last season, prompting some critics to claim the Scot is out of his depth at Old Trafford.
But Moyes remains convinced United can salvage a traumatic campaign if they get back on track quickly.
“I am really disappointed, but we go again, keep going and move on to the next game,” Moyes told MUTV.
“That is the good thing here, there are always more games. We just didn’t reach the standards we would have hoped to [against Everton], but we have a chance to go again.”
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes Moyes will get it right eventually, but he knows the intense pressure on United could help the Magpies.
“I think everybody knew that the first person to follow Alex, it was going to be very, very difficult,” Pardew said. “But he’s a strong man and I think he can handle it, and there’s a long, long way to go.
United’s struggles have added to the growing sense that Arsenal’s surge to the top of the table could be the prelude to a first English title for the Gunners since 2004.
Arsene Wenger’s side, 2-0 winners over Hull in midweek, are four points clear of second-placed Chelsea.
They face a tough test against United’s conquerers Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, but Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta is confident the Gunners’ superb run of form has given them the belief they can last the pace.
“The difference to previous years is we are top of the league when by now we would be 10 or 12 points behind whoever was first before,” he said.
“The confidence and atmosphere is different and we want to maintain that.
“Does it matter we don’t have the experience of winning the title before? No – as long as you have the quality, the ambition and togetherness that we have, I think we are in a good position to do it.”
Chelsea travel to Stoke, with Frank Lampard warning his teammates not to get complacent after back to back victories over Southampton and Sunderland.
Lampard, a scorer in the 4-3 midweek win at Sunderland, is pleased with Chelsea’s improvement after a rocky patch but he said: “A lot of that is attitude and focus. We have got the squad, we have got the players, but we have to get ourselves up for every game.
Manchester City, six points behind Arsenal in third place, travel to Southampton, who have slipped to eighth after three successive defeats.
City captain Vincent Kompany is hopeful a win at St Mary’s will signal the start of a charge for the title from the last year champions.
Fourth-placed Liverpool, who host West Ham, look a strong contender to qualify for the Champions League after demolishing Norwich 5-1 in midweek and Reds midfielder Joe Allen admits the scintillating form of Luis Suarez holds the key to their challenge.
Uruguay forward Suarez scored four times against Norwich and Allen said: “That was a masterclass. There are not many teams in the world who would be able to cope with that kind of performance.”
Other Saturday games see Crystal Palace host Cardiff, Sunderland home to Tottenham, West Brom against Norwich while on Sunday, Fulham meet Aston Villa. On Monday, Swansea are home to Hull.