The rivalry of the Manchester resumed on Monday night and illustrated that there was very little to separate the two giants at the top of the table.
And although Manchester City were victorious at Old Trafford - after a 2-1 victory, United still have a far superior points tally to that of their City neighbours.
So, here are the three reasons why United have turned things around this year and look destined for a 20th league title:
Robin van Persie:
United's purchase of Van Persie late in the summer transfer window seemed to spur them on and give them a renewed sense of life throughout the early stages of the season.
In addition to his predator instinct and great goal scoring ability, he also gave Ferguson's side a psychological advantage over the newly crowned champions as Mancini's desire for the Dutchman was made evident to the press.
Nevertheless, Van Persie's 19 league goals including an heroic hat-trick against Southampton and a dramatic last minute winner at the Etihad has been pivotal in United's pursuit for the Premier League title.
Injuries and Absentees:
City have undoubtedly been the less fortunate with regards to the severity of casualties among the two Manchester clubs. Similar to United being without their captain Nemanja Vidic for the best part of last season, Mancini's men have missed their leader Vincent Kompany in the heart of their defence.
Kompany has recently returned from an injury which had sidelined the centre-back since the beginning of the year and City have looked vulnerable at times without the Belgian in their side.
Sergio Aguero has also suffered his fair share of injuries this season resulting in him not featuring in the starting line up for the Blues as much as he would have hoped.
This would also give reasoning for his fellow Argentine strike partner, Carlos Tevez's poor run of form. The duo played magnificently together during pre-season and this was one of the key reasons as to why many saw City to be favourites to retain the Premier League crown.
The powerhouse of Yaya Toure was also absent for a significant period of time during the chaotic Christmas schedule. Toure was representing Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations and his impact was greatly missed within City's midfield.
The Dressing Room:
Since Roberto Mancini has taken over as City boss, there have been a number of controversial confrontations between himself and his players.
Former City striker Mario Balotelli not only set alight sparks out of his bathroom window, but also on the training ground. Earlier in the year pictures were released of Mancini and Balotelli pushing each other angrily. This had a negative influence on the pitch and enough was enough in the January transfer window as Mario was sold to AC Milan. Yaya Toure's antics have also been made public recently. He demanded a new four-year-contract contract. City were given the ultimatum of granting the African his wish or see him go elsewhere in the summer.
On the other hand, the 19-time Premier League champions have a much more stable environment off the pitch. With the experience of veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes along with Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra rubbing off on the younger players such as the improving David de Gea and Rafael, they have become a powerful unit.
Their spirit and togetherness has been proven many times this season, in games such as late wins against Newcastle at Old Trafford and away at Aston Villa. The winning mentality implemented by Sir Alex Ferguson has been vital in achieving their gaping lead at the top of the table.
Manchester City turned the title race around late last season and despite Mancini’s rejections, must have been given the slightest glimmer of hope after defeating United at the Theatre of Dreams. Although with the gap almost double what it was this time 12 months ago, surely the title is going back to the red half of Manchester.
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