Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala believes Manchester United can still challenge for the Premier League title this season.
The defender, who has helped City close the gap on league leaders Chelsea to just three points at the summit, told Sky Sports News that he thinks Louis Van Gaal's side cannot be discounted so easily at this stage of the season.
After last season's miserable time under David Moyes, United have bounced back this term and are now fancied by many to pile the pressure on the leading pack over the festive period.
Van Gaal inherited a squad low on confidence in the summer but after splurging £150million on new players now has one of the strongest squads in the division.
Their comfortably victory over Brendan Rodgers' struggling Liverpool at the weekend was their sixth win in a row and put them three points clear off fourth-placed West Ham going into this weekend's game against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Robin Van Persie has overcome a sluggish start to the season to resemble the player that fired them to the title under Sir Alex Ferguson two years ago, whilst Wayne Rooney has thrived after succeeding Nemanja Vidic as club captain back in August.
Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao are both nearing full fitness, and could help put Paul Lambert's side to the sword when the two sides lock horns on Saturday afternoon.
After snubbing a move to the Theatre of Dreams in favour of a move to City, Mangala is now wary of the threat his admirers could pose to their chances of retaining the league title.
"I don't think it's just down to two teams – I think a lot of teams can be involved," he said.
"Just a few games ago we were eight or nine points behind Chelsea and we have come right back to be on their heels.
"They are not making a huge amount of noise about it, but certainly United are there in terms of league position and points. They have been winning and are gradually coming back into things."
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