Having safely negotiated tricky trips to the Emirates, Stamford Bridge and then Carrow Road, Sir Alex's men approached arguably their biggest challenge – away to in-form Tottenham – still five points behind long-time leaders Manchester City.
The toughest test of United’s title credentials was passed with flying colours and the Reds easily cut the gap down to two again thanks to a thoroughly professional performance and goals from Wayne Rooney and a double from Ashley Young.
We had a chance to return to the top of the table, albeit briefly, for the first time since October with a win over West Brom and the Reds obliged with a 2-0 victory. It at least helped to nurse the wounds inflicted during the week, when Spanish side Athletic Club came to Old Trafford in the Europa League and snatched a 3-2 win following a thrilling 90 minutes.
The return leg, in Bilbao, proved just as disappointing. A stunning Wayne Rooney goal was mere consolation after the home side took a two-goal lead in the noisy San Mames. At the final whistle, United had been dumped out of Europe for a second time in a season, defeated 5-3 on aggregate by the competition's eventual losing finalists.
The Reds usually bounce back strongly, though, and so it proved when Sir Alex's men went to Wolves - a side, we should remember, that stunned United last season with a 2-1 win at Molineux. History wasn’t about to repeat itself as United blew away the relegation-haunted side. In-form Jonny Evans notched his first-ever goal in United colours as part of the 5-0 drubbing, while Antonio Valencia turned in an unstoppable attacking display on the right wing.
With City not playing until the Wednesday, this victory put the Reds four points clear and allowed the Reds to settle back and watch the Blues take on a fast-improving Chelsea. But full credit to Mancini’s men, who recovered from going one behind late in the game to eke out a 2-1 victory and maintain the pressure.
Most of that good work was undone, however, when the Blues went on to drop four points out of the