Manchester United defensive pair Chris Smalling and Patrice Evra are confident Manchester City will slip up in their quest for the Barclays Premier League title.

With 16 games remaining, United lie three points behind City at the top of the league.

Having gone the first 14 games of the league season unbeaten, City have won just five of their last 10 in all competitions, a modest run following a barnstorming start from Robero Mancini's men.

After watching City strike late against fellow contenders Tottenham Hotspur, United grabbed a crucial win of their own against Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium, a crucial victory in their race to retain their title according to Smalling.

"It was a massive win for us," said Smalling. "Even at 1-1 we all knew that we really needed to win this game because of what happened earlier and I think we showed real character. Soon enough, if we keep ticking these wins, then they'll crumble."

Stand-in skipper Evra is just as confident United can come out on top if they continue to pile the pressure on their near neighbours.

"I always say the league is not a sprint, it's a marathon," he said.

"We are still behind City but we have to keep going, keep winning games and I'm really confident in the team because everyone is working really hard and when we play with the United spirit it is difficult to beat us."

While City have continue to show flair and inventiveness in their displays since topping the league table at the start of the season, the club are in unknown territory when it comes seeing out a title win.

Many of the squad have success elsewhere around Europe, but just six of the playing staff, including the rarely used Stuart Taylor and Wayne Bridge, have experience of winning a championship in England, and Mancini has previously said he's worried about the lack of know-how.

“If we don’t have the players it’s tough for us – we are not United,” said Mancini.

“The difference is that United and Chelsea have won trophies for many years, so they are quiet. They understand that they can play without pressure.

“For us it’s different. This could be the first championship for many years and we need to do everything we can to win it.”

Topics:
Chris Smalling
Football
Manchester City
Championship
Premier League
Manchester United
Patrice Evra