Pole position

"With just nine hours of football left to play in 2011/12, the destiny of the Barclays Premier League title is in United's hands."

-'s Nick Coppack

09/04/2012 15:46, Report by Nick Coppack
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Blog: Closing in on glory's Nick Coppack highlights the reasons why United are now heavy favourites to win the league...

Name on the trophy? Not quite. Although even the most pessimistic United fan must surely concede all signs point to a 20th English league title.

A quick glance at the league table confirms as much: with just six games to play, the Reds boast an eight-point lead (the biggest margin of the season) and superior goal difference. And yet some supporters still won't permit themselves a smile. "Not until it's in the bag," they say.

Such is the strength of United's position, though, Sir Alex's men could draw five of those remaining six games and still win the league by a point should they beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on 30 April. And that's assuming City win all their other matches (which would represent a massive turnaround in form from Roberto Mancini's side, who have taken just five points from a possible 15 in the last month).

There's certainly little to suggest United are on the brink of collapse. Form is good (the Reds have won 11 of the last 12 league games), the defence looks both settled (Sir Alex has fielded the same back five in the past five fixtures) and solid (David De Gea hasn't conceded in the league for 453 minutes) and the injury list continues to shrink (Tom Cleverley enjoyed a 15-minute cameo against QPR, while Nani - unavailable since early March - has resumed training).

What's more, key players keep delivering the goods. Wayne Rooney has netted 14 goals in his last 15 appearances in all competitions, while Antonio Valencia has provided 13 assists and scored four times himself since the beginning of December. As for Paul Scholes... well, since his retirement U-turn, the Reds have taken 34 of a possible 36 points in the league, with the 37-year-old midfielder starting all but one of those games (a match, incidentally, in which United were losing 3-1 until Scholes came off the bench to help inspire a draw).

Perhaps the doomsayers do have a point. We probably shouldn't take anything for granted. Certainly not in a season in which the Reds have suffered a humiliating 6-1 derby defeat at

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