Arsenal, meanwhile, are buoyed by having taken advantage of United's slip with a 4-1 win away to Everton, even if their performance was some way short of their usual standards.
Everton led at half-time, before two Eduardo da Silva goals, his first in the Premier League, set up the victory.
"I was tempted to change the team around at half-time, but I felt the reason we were not winning was that we had become nervous after hearing the Manchester United result," manager Arsene Wenger said.
"It was a great result for us, we showed we can battle, we have a great spirit and showed that we can cope with all kinds of challenges - that is always a sign of a very good side."
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, backed his side to bounce back at home to Birmingham.
"We put in an excellent performance at Sunderland on Boxing Day but this was disappointing," he said.
"They were very competitive and aggressive, West Ham, and were always about us.
"Sometimes it happens like that."
Chelsea, having scrambled their way to victory over Newcastle to lie six points off the top, go to Fulham in the west London derby to face a team in their first game under their new manager, Roy Hodgson.
"Roy will look at the squad like we have and I think he will be encouraged by what he saw in terms of the spirit and the way we played," said Ray Lewington, who has been caretaker manager since the sacking of Lawrie Sanchez.
"He will probably think, however, that the balance is wrong and I've felt that myself for quite a long time.
"We have got good players but they are similar types of players and it is the mixture rather than the quality he will probably look at."
Liverpool play host to a Wigan side whose resurgence under Steve Bruce ended with defeat to Aston Villa Saturday.
Villa themselves host a Tottenham side enjoying their own renaissance, having lost just twice in 14 games since Juande Ramos replaced Martin Jol.
Sunderland, having got just their second win in 14 with victory over Bolton Saturday to climb out of the bottom three, seek their first away win of the season at Blackburn.