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 – behind United, so their triumph at Old Trafford wasn’t anything like as significant as their home success a year ago. It still hurt the Reds, however, and sparked a winning response away to Stoke on the same day City booked a place in the FA Cup final. In the following midweek, the Blues actually closed the gap by beating Wigan as United were held by West Ham. But when City lost 3-1 at Tottenham, it left the Reds needing only to beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford to guarantee a historic 20th league title. Victory was achieved, of course, with van Persie's glorious second hat-trick for the club. A fitting end to a thrilling title race - and with four games to spare.
United - 1st (84 points); Man City - 2nd (68 points); Chelsea - 3rd (61 points)