United go into the weekend six points clear of second-place Manchester City, who hosted bottom club Reading on Saturday. Ferguson’s side then host Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion before travelling to Wigan Athletic on January 1.
The United manager believes that if his team are in the same position when they travel to the DW Stadium, they will have taken a major step towards winning a 20th league title.
Ferguson said: “We have every right to expect a challenge. I think that’s what we are good at. That’s why I’m looking at December as an opportunity to gather points and make sure we are top of the league come New Year’s Day.
“And if we are top of the league on New Year’s Day, you know well — and everyone else knows well — that we’re going to be in the ball park at the end of the season.
“We know there are going to be challenges — it could come from Chelsea, too — but I think City and ourselves will be battling it out (for the title).” For United, Jonny Evans is set to return from a hamstring problem but may not be risked at the Liberty Stadium.
Midfielder Michael Carrick is also a minor doubt after being withdrawn at half-time in the 3-1 win over Sunderland last weekend with a hamstring injury.
Brazilian defender will Rafael miss out again with a hamstring injury, Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa has yet to return from knee trouble, and winger Nani still has a hamstring injury.
For Swansea, goalkeeper Michel Vorm could return after being sidelined since October with a groin injury. After hosting United, Swansea head to Reading and Fulham before a home game against Aston Villa.
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