Alex Ferguson believes a more mature Wayne Rooney (in pic) is key for Manchester United as the champions look to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League against Blackburn tonight.

An intense title battle with Manchester City looks to have swung United's way after their local rivals were held to a 3-3 draw by Sunderland at Eastlands on Saturday.

United have a two-point lead at the top and can take what may prove a decisive five-point advantage if they win at Ewood Park.  United had lost their home game to Rovers 2-3.

"He's doing well. He's scored 17 out of 17. I hope he gets to 40," said Ferguson of Rooney, who has a total of 29 goals to date this season. 

EPL preview: Manchester United vs Blackburn