If there is one man that knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in a Barclays Premier League title race, then you'd have to say it's 12-time winner and Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs.
The 38-year-old Welshman is still very much part of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad who are chasing their 20th domestic crown this season, and are hot on the heels of local rivals Manchester City in the club's pursuit of yet another trophy.
"It's been a strong start from us," Giggs told United's official website. "Obviously City have got off to a better start but we're pleased with where we are in the table and especially the form in the moment.
"The experience that the manager, the players and the coaching staff have of what's required in the second half of the season, as well as the overall hunger and desire to win competitions will help us.
"Big players can't wait for big games and towards the end of the season the games just get bigger and bigger. You want that in the run-in - you want to be involved in big games and going for the title. That's why you become a footballer."
City were the early-season pacesetters, remaining unbeaten until mid-December, and if there was any doubt at all about Roberto Mancini's team's title credentials this year, they answered their critics in style with an emphatic 6-1 victory over the reigning champions at Old Trafford.
However, as 2011 draws to a close, the Red Devils have moved level on points with the Citizens, sitting behind them only on goal difference. And barring any unexpected result against basement boys Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, United will end the year on top of the table because City are not in action at Sunderland until 24 hours later.
United's fightback is even more impressive when you consider they have responded positively to the club's calamitous exit from the UEFA Champions League, which came just weeks after a shock home defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup.
Those results led to suggestions that the wheels had finally come off at Manchester United, but Giggs insists that the players are made of stronger mettle than that.
"You're always going to get criticism here," he added. "If you're not top of the league there's something wrong and if you get knocked out of competitions you're always going to get criticised.
'That's something you just have to get used to. You can't sulk or moan about it, you've just got to get on with it and play good football like we have been doing.
"We'll just look to kick on as we always do in the second half of the season and hopefully we'll have a bit more luck with injuries and have a strong run after Christmas."
Having scored 16 goals and conceded just once in four Barclays Premier League games since dropping out of Europe's top-tier competition, United's recovery has been nothing short of fantastic - and explains part of the reasoning behind Giggs' belief that his teammates have the edge in this year's title race.
"We've had setbacks throughout the years and you learn from them and they can help in a way. I've experienced that throughout my career - you might hit bad form or you miss a good chance, and you can't wait for the next game so you can rectify it.
"I'm sure all the lads felt like that after the City game and after the Basel game, which was a big disappointment too. You're going to get setbacks but it's how you react to them and thankfully we've come back strong."
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