The same seven-point gap between United and City was in place at the end of January, although Chelsea fell further behind after losing at home to QPR and only drawing with Southampton and Reading. The Manchester rivals matched each other with three wins and a stalemate apiece, a notable day being Sunday 13 when United beat Liverpool and City replied by winning at Arsenal. The Reds also thrashed Wigan 4-0 away on New Year’s Day and scraped past Southampton 2-1.
United - 1st (59 points); Man City - 2nd (52 points); Chelsea - 3rd (46 points)
Only nine league points were up for grabs and, while City dropped five of theirs, United claimed the lot with three solid wins. Fulham’s resistance was broken by Rooney’s late winner at Craven Cottage, Everton were defeated with goals from van Persie and Ryan Giggs – who maintained his record of scoring in every Premier League season (now 21) – and QPR were overturned at Loftus Road thanks to another Giggs strike and Rafael’s rocket. The month’s key result, however, was City’s shock loss at Southampton, following a home draw with Liverpool. The only victory for Roberto Mancini’s men was at least a notable one against Chelsea, who finished February 19 points behind United.
United - 1st (68 points); Man City - 2nd (56 points); Chelsea - 4th (49 points)
United’s grip on the title race was strengthened in March with three more victories to nil, with David De Gea enjoying his longest run of consecutive clean sheets in the league. Kagawa hit the headlines with a hat-trick in the 4-0 home win over Norwich before one strike proved enough against both Reading (Rooney) and Sunderland (Titus Bramble own goal). City won away at Aston Villa and thumped Newcastle at home but fell further behind the Reds by losing at Everton.
United - 1st (77 points); Man City - 2nd (62 points); Chelsea - 4th (55 points)
City went into the second Manchester derby of the season 15 points – or five victories