Van der Sar - Experience is key

Van der Sar insists United will hold their nerve.

Van Der Sar is confident United will win the league

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Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar believes his side's vast experience of tight title races will help them retain their Premier League crown.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men are chasing a record-breaking fourth consecutive league title and can top the table with victory against Portsmouth on Saturday, as rivals Arsenal and Chelsea meet at Stamford Bridge 24 hours later.

And the 39-year-old is confident United can build on last week's emphatic 3-1 victory over the Gunners and overtake Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders.

"Experience definitely helps," he told the club's official website. "You've been there before - through narrow escapes and must-win games. You know how to handle them.

"The more you go through these situations the better you are at dealing with them.

"There's a moment in your career where it clicks and you think, 'I've been in this situation before, I know what to do, I know what to expect'. That comes in handy sometimes."

It is no coincidence that since Van der Sar returned in January from injury - and his wife's illness - the team have improved.

Injuries and suspensions to defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic meant manager Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to make changes - not that Van der Sar is that concerned with the disruption.

He said: "In general, we tend to coach the same way and to play in the same system. But every player has their own characteristics.

"You have to understand the qualities and the character of your team-mates. Sometimes one defender is quicker than another, or one is better at heading the ball.

"Whoever comes into the defence brings their own personality and style with them. As a goalkeeper you try to make sure everything glues together and you work well."