Rallying call from Rio as United prepare to host Arsenal

Manchester United defender also eager to feature as often as possible this season.

Ahead of Sunday's heavyweight contest at Old Trafford, Rio Ferdinand has been urging Manchester United to raise their game and battle their way back into the title race.

It has been a difficult start to life after Sir Alex Ferguson for the Manchester club, as it was always likely to be, with David Moyes only beginning to claim control of what was very much another captain's ship and crew. But recent results have provided a smattering of calm to many who had rushed to panic stations, and United currently share the best form over the last four Premier League games alongside their North London visitors.

But now is the time to kick on according to Ferdinand, who acknowledged that the champions have been disappointing in their consistency so far this year, and are ready to turn the corner.

"I don't think we've shown ourselves this season on a consistent basis, not just in the big games," said the ex-England man.

"It is time to start putting our foot on the pedal and motor on. We have to do that if we want to remain in contention to win the league."

Now 35, Ferdinand knows that he is unlikely to be able to play as often as he would like. But the desire to feature regularly remains, as he looks to extend his eleven year United career.

"Obviously, you want to play in every minute of every game, but at this stage of my career, I know that's not possible," Ferdinand told the Daily Telegraph.

"I know the manager is going to put me in and out of the games, but I want to be involved in as many as I can.

"At the beginning of last season, people were probably writing me off and saying I wasn't able to play in back-to-back games and play at this level but I was part of a championship-winning team, which said it all."

But catching Arsenal is the target for now, and though that starts this weekend as they face Wenger's men, Ferdinand knows the side must put together a run their old boss would be proud of if they're to make up lost ground.

"People say we have to win this weekend against Arsenal, but it doesn't matter whether it is Cardiff or Swansea or whoever it is, we have to win.

"Whether it's a top of the league team or not, we have to get points."

image: © Paolo Camera

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