Sir Alex Ferguson is pinning his Premier League title hopes on Newcastle avoiding defeat to Manchester City on Sunday after dismissing any prospect of a miraculous championship win on goal difference.

Manchester United's defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Monday means they surrendered top spot to City and with two games remaining, United's hopes of retaining their title depends on either City dropping points or recording big wins themselves against Swansea and Sunderland that would allow them to claim the title on goal difference.

Ferguson is hoping for the former, and said: "The challenge for City is to win at Newcastle (on Sunday). Newcastle is a very difficult place and they are playing well."

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