Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United's quest for a Premier League title hat-trick was dealt a major blow with the 2-1 defeat by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
After setting his team an 85-point target to secure their third successive crown, Ferguson knows the Red Devils remain stuck on 21 after 11 games, gaining just a single point from trips to the other members of the 'big four'.
"It is a big blow to us," he said. "We needed to win the game. Our results against the other big clubs is a big concern. It is a complete opposite to last year, when we lost at Chelsea and drew at Arsenal but won the rest."
He added: "We have got to get above 85 points to have a chance of winning the league, so we must keep going for it."
While the industry of his side's performance meant it could not be used as an excuse, Ferguson once again questioned how the fixtures have fallen for United.
In the first half of the season they must play the entire top eight from last term away from home, while every Champions League group game, such as last week's trip to Celtic, is followed by United getting on their travels in domestic combat.
"They say the league is not handicapped - I am not so sure," he said.
"Having every game away from home following a European tie is not easy. Going from Celtic on Wednesday to play at Arsenal the following Saturday lunchtime is hard, although funnily enough, I did not think it was a problem today."
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