Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United need to win at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday to get the title charge back on track.
The derby-day reverse to Manchester City trimmed the lead to 12 points with seven games remaining, enough to cause a minor bout of the jitters for some supporters in the wake of what happened at the end of last year's Barclays Premier League.
Any trip to Stoke City is usually tough and the Potters are desperate for points themselves after slipping down the table. However, the United manager is determined to secure victory ahead of the midweek journey south to West Ham next Wednesday.
"We have a job to do," stated Sir Alex. "The incentives are there for ourselves in the sense that we've only got seven games left.
"The challenge is there for Stoke as well. I don't think they will go down but, nonetheless, they’re in a precarious situation because, down the bottom of that league, you don’t pick up a lot of points. I think they'll get enough to get out.
"I don't think we should look at our position in terms of being 12 points clear. What matters is winning on Sunday and we need to do
"I don't think we should look at our position in terms of being 12 points clear. What matters is winning on Sunday and we need to do that."
- Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking at the pre-Stoke press conference