Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the performance of his back four following Manchester United's 1-0 win over Arsenal and says they could be the key to his side's Premier League title bid.
United managed to hold onto their lead at Old Trafford after Ji-Sung Park opened the scoring just before the break, with the three-point haul sending them top of the table with a game in hand, as well as stretching their unbeaten record this season.
And manager Ferguson feels his defensive line-up, consisting of Rafael da Silva, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, were largely responsible for the triumph.
"We defended very well, the back four were fantastic tonight, absolutely magnificent," Ferguson told Sky Sports HD1.
"So with that foundation it always gives us a great chance."
He added: "I think we're starting to get there. I think our form is improving. And, as I say, with the back four playing like that, if they play like that from now on and give us the consistency, then we're in with a good chance."
Wayne Rooney missed a chance to double United's lead when he fired a shocking penalty attempt into the stands in the second half.
And Ferguson admits he was surprised by the effort, adding: "It was an unusual penalty and normally Wayne will always keep it down. I've never known him to hit one over the bar. It gave Arsenal a bit of impetus."
The manager was full of praise for Park, whose strike against the Gunners marked his sixth in all competitions this season.
"His goalscoring record against Arsenal is very good," he said. "He's been in fantastic form, the lad."
Ferguson was pleased to see his side rise to the occasion and acknowledged the importance of getting a positive result against fellow title contenders.
"We had to play well. I think in these major games you want to perform and I think we did perform tonight, particularly in the first half," he said.
"The second half Arsenal came into it a bit. They didn't make any real chances in the game but they pegged us back a little.
"We should have done better on the counter-attack, which we had some good chances in."
The manager is already looking ahead to Sunday's clash against reigning champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and is aware of the significance of that encounter.
"We've got a difficult game against Chelsea next Sunday," he added. "That's going to be a very important game now."