Source: Agencies | 2013-2-5 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
EITHER Manchester United has virtually wrapped up the English Premier League title or Manchester City has it exactly where the team wants it after a weekend that saw the gap grow to nine points.
Champion City's draws with Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool in a week in which United ground out narrow wins against Southampton and Fulham left Alex Ferguson's side in the clear with 13 matches remaining.
City manager Roberto Mancini said the race is far from over after his side's 2-2 home draw with Liverpool and while straws are possibly being clutched by the Italian there is plenty of recent evidence backing up his optimism.
Last year City was in even worse shape, trailing by eight points with six games remaining, only for an uncharacteristic United wobble to allow its neighbor to snatch the title with almost the final kick of the season.
The bitter memory of that gripping finale, in which United thought it had won the title only for City's Sergio Aguero to score deep into stoppage time at home to QPR, means United will be taking nothing for granted. It will also be acutely aware that one bad result can lead to two, or three, as happened last season.
A 0-1 defeat in April last year, was followed by a 4-4 draw at home to Everton, having led 4-2, and a 0-1 defeat at City which effectively took matters out of its hands.
United faces Everton at home again this weekend, then an FA Cup tie against Reading before a run of three comfortable looking league fixtures leading up to a potentially decisive home clash with City on April 6.
Mancini will hope his side has made inroads into the deficit before it faces United at Old Trafford.
"There have been plenty of times in the past when gaps like this have been made up," a defiant Mancini said.
"Our target is to get into the Manchester derby in April just two or three points behind."