With the title race descending into a psychological battle between Ferguson and Rafael Benítez, the Liverpool manager, United could land a potentially telling blow by securing the top spot before Monday's Merseyside derby.
Ferguson believes that seizing pole position by the time the final whistle is blown at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday is the sole objective for United.
"We certainly hope to be top by Sunday morning, but, first of all, we have a big game against Wigan," he said. "We have to get this one done and then reflect on what we have to do at Bolton.
"The games in hand have been a handicap because it's not easy to make them up, but we are getting one of them out of the way now. The next one [against Fulham at Old Trafford] is a month away. But until we play the two games in hand, we can't judge where we are because we are still chasing the teams in front."