Tony Pulis' men become the latest to stand in the way of Manchester United's impressive unbeaten record when they travel to Old Trafford tomorrow.

A meeting regarded with some trepidation by most of the Premier League has not proved that daunting for Sir Alex Ferguson's men since the Potteries outfit returned to the top flight.

Five straight wins and just a single goal conceded does not suggest United have a problem dealing with Stoke's bombardment and it has already been established that Rory Delap cannot launch his devastating throw-ins in quite the same manner due to the slope round the perimeter of the Old Trafford pitch.

But it also seems that mentally, United are ready for the challenge too.

Indeed, it is one Vidic positive relishes.

"In English football you have to deal with big, tall strikers and you have to deal with the small, sharp and quick ones," observed the Serbian.

"That is why it is the most competitive league in the world. But I just love to defend.

"Right from when I was young I always liked to defend, to work to stop the other team scoring a goal no matter how they played or who they played for.

"I have played against the big ones and ones with the technique. In all the years I've been here I learned how to stop them all."

Vidic will hope his words do not come back to haunt him as victory for United tomorrow would pile the pressure on nearest challengers Arsenal and Manchester City, who meet at the Emirates Stadium 24 hours later.

Already in charge of the title race due to their games in hand, it is easy to see how United might end this week with a points advantage as well.

Not that Vidic is taking anything for granted.

Even though the Red Devils registered their second away win of the season at West Brom on Saturday, they were not particularly impressive and realise they had a huge slice of luck when Gary Neville somehow escaped dismissal for a lunge on Graham Dorrans that should also have brought the hosts a penalty.

And Vidic only has to look at Chelsea's on-going travails to realise United must retain their focus.

"We must play better and we need our players back from injury, but we believe we can win the league," he said.

"We have certainly shown this season we can play solid. We haven't lost.

"But this season is very strange. If you had told me five weeks ago that Chelsea would be in the position they are now, I wouldn't have believed it.

"Everyone thought they were the strongest team and that they would win the title. But then they didn't win for six games.

"And look how many points we have lost this season. If someone had told me this would happen, I would have said we could not win the league. But here we are top and still unbeaten."

It would be easy for United to reflect on missed opportunities; Fulham, Everton and Birmingham are the obvious ones.

But Vidic realises there is not much point as everyone else could do the same.

"If we had won just half of the away games we have drawn we would have been out of reach by now," he reflected.

"But the other teams can say that too. They will feel they should be in a better position too.

"We just have to keep going and hope we can change it."

Before confirming his final selection of the Christmas programme, Sir Alex Ferguson will need to assess the fitness of Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra and Darron Gibson, who all ended Saturday's game in various states of discomfort.

United hope to have Nani available after a hip problem but Paul Scholes will not be considered even though he is due to return to training after a groin problem.