Yorke's A Bit Of All Dwight - Zola

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Gianfranco Zola hailed Dwight Yorke as one of the greatest strikers he had ever played against as Manchester United's record signing revealed that he had never doubted his ability to succeed at Old Trafford.

Yorke took his tally for the season to 26 and United's to 100 in all competitions with two against Chelsea to match his double strike against Inter Milan and set up a return to Villa Park in next month's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

Since moving from Aston Villa last summer for £12.6million, the striker has lit up not only the FA Premiership but also Europe to prove one of Alex Ferguson's shrewdest acquisitions.

The United boss believes that Yorke is the favourite for the coveted player of the season award and Zola, as well as team-mate Roberto Di Matteo, were just as effusive in their possibly more objective praise.

Zola himself was voted player of the year in his first season in English football and in a career which has also spanned Serie A and the world stage for Italy, clearly recognises immense talent when he sees it.

The former Italian international declared: "He's great, I would put him in the greatest category.

"He's doing very well this season and has completed his game. Above all, he is in complete symphony with his team, that's a point which makes him very effective."

For it is not just Yorke's goalscoring prowess, exemplified by his sublime 20-yard chip to secure victory at Stamford Bridge, but also his all-round game which impresses Zola.

After losing the services of Eric Cantona, United have now finally discovered a new talent to not only inspire them but also to gel their many other creative forces together.

"I'm really impressed at the way he is playing at the moment. Apart from the goals, he is playing very well as he holds the ball at the right moment and allows the team to get up. He is very effective for his team," said Zola.

Italian international Di Matteo added: "He's certainly one of the top strikers I've seen and I've seen some good strikers in my time.

"He's in great shape and is making the difference at the moment for Manchester United. Give him half a chance and he scores, even when they're not playing well - and that's vital."

Yorke has taken the best part of 10 years to become an overnight success with the full range of his talents only now being fully recognised and appreciated following his move to Old Trafford.

Some doubted Ferguson's wisdom in spending so much on him but Yorke never once doubted his ability to perform at the highest level

With his trademark smile now as wide as ever, the striker is relishing the chance to play on the biggest stages in the game, given that his international career with Trinidad and Tobago means that he seems doomed unlikely to ever reach the World Cup finals.

"If I didn't think I could handle such a daunting prospect as going to Manchester United I wouldn't have come here but I'm delighted with the way things have turned out," he said.

"You improve with quality players around you and that was a challenge I was looking forward to. It's always nice to score spectacular goals but a goal is a goal."

The treble is now looking less of an impossible dream as United stand top of the Premiership, 2-0 up from the first leg of their Champions' League quarter-final against Inter Milan and in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Yorke insists that the prospect has never been discussed in the United dressing-room as he maintained: "We're just taking it a step at a time and enjoying what's ahead of us.

"I know Villa Park well and I hope I can produce something there, but I also know what Arsenal can do."

The striker also acknowledged that United are far from being a one-man team - a point which Ferguson would seem to agree with as he abruptly ended the post-match press conference when Yorke was the only topic of conversation.

"Peter Schmeichel was fantastic and kept us in the game with some great saves," declared Yorke.

Indeed, with Schmeichel back to his very best and Jaap Stam confirming himself as a defender of world-class stature, United now seem to have added defensive resilience and consistency to their attacking finesse.

The 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge was their seventh clean sheet in 10 games but Yorke realises that not only do Arsenal pose them a huge test in the FA Cup but that Chelsea's Premiership challenge is still very much alive.

"They are a fantastic team and should have taken us to extra-time. They will certainly be challenging us for the championship," he added.

The key for Chelsea is to show resilience by immediately bouncing back from only their fourth defeat of the season and their first at home this campaign, with West Ham the visitors on Saturday.

While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches despite having finished the game without any apparent injury, Chelsea also have a doubt over Frank Leboeuf, who picked up a thigh muscle problem.

Centre-back Michael Duberry is close to match-fitness after his own injury problems but Saturday's game is believed to be just too early for Gustavo Poyet to return, with his long-awaited comeback probably scheduled some time next week.