• United manager targets 100 Premier League goals this term
• Based on 26 goals in 10 games with 13 different scorers
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United are on course to score 100 Premier League goals this season for the first time. His side have already managed 26 in their opening 10 matches, with Robin van Persie striking eight times, the Dutchman one of 13 different finishers for United in the league.
When becoming champions in the 2009-10 season Chelsea returned 103 goals, the only time a club has broken the century barrier in the Premier League. United's best is 97 in 1999-2000, with last season's 93 from Manchester City the third highest. "We have 15 goalscorers this year [in all competitions] and it is definitely helping us at the moment," Ferguson said.
The Scot takes United, who lead Chelsea in the table by a point, to Aston Villa on Saturday, and he said of reaching 100 this campaign: "It would be nice to think we could do that. That season in 2000, when we were one goal short of 100 in the league [actually three], the last game was at Villa Park – we had the opportunity but didn't quite make it.
"The satisfying thing for me is the goals around the team. Fifteen different scorers is quite healthy. It's getting ridiculous now because [Jonny] Evans and [Patrice] Evra have scored two – they've doubled their tally in their careers. But we will take them from anyone. As long as the strikers are scoring and we [are] winning matches."
Van Persie has followed his £23m arrival in the summer by instantly hitting top form. "He's experienced. His eight years at Arsenal helps, and he's come to us at the right time," Ferguson said. "He's got us 11 [in total] goals so far and Chicharito's [Javier Hernández] on six and getting back to what he was a couple of years back, and a summer's rest has helped him enormously. He's looking fresh and aggressive with his running always a handful. Wazza [Wayne Rooney] will get to 20 goals plus this season I'm sure of that, once he gets into his stride. It's a healthy combination we've got up there."
The manager does not think there is a danger of United being too reliant on Van Persie. "I don't think it's been a problem in the past [depending on one player]. Wayne had 30-odd goals last year and the way young Chicharito has started this season I'm certain he'll get to 20 goals plus."
Rooney missed a penalty in United's 2-1 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford last Saturday to make it 13 goals from 20 spot-kicks in the league during his career. But he did score a penalty in United's 3-1 win at Braga during the week in the Champions League.
Ferguson said: "Wayne has to accept he has to have a better strike rate with his penalties. The one thing about Rooney is that it wouldn't matter if it was a World Cup final or a Rumbelows Cup first-round game against an amateur team, he would still want to score."
Ferguson added that Rooney would never wish to stand down from taking penalties but did say "he will not want to miss another one," suggesting the job could be given to someone else if he does.
Ferguson, meanwhile, supports Arsène Wenger's stance in criticising Roy Hodgson for selecting Jack Wilshere for England soon after his return from a 17-month injury absence. He said: "I can understand completely where Arsène is coming from. It's like with Chris Smalling, I don't want to play him tomorrow [after facing Braga following injury], but I may have to."
This is because Jonny Evans is a doubt with a groin strain, though the manager would play Michael Carrick in defence again if required. Nani is definitely out. "He has a tight hamstring and 10 days [before returning] should be OK for him."