The English title race is
heading for its tightest finish in 23 years after Manchester
City's 1-0 win over Manchester United on Monday left the teams
level on points at the top of the Premier League table.
With two matches to play, both Manchester clubs are on 83
points but City lead on goal difference.
Roberto Mancini's City have scored 88 goals and conceded 27
for a goal difference of 61 while United have scored 86 goals
and conceded 33 for a difference of 53.
Not since Arsenal and Liverpool finished level on points in
1989 has the title race been so close when the teams finished
level on points (76) and goal difference (37).
Arsenal's Michael Thomas scored with almost the last kick of
the final game of the season to give his side a 2-0 win at
Liverpool that clinched the title by virtue of Arsenal having
scored more goals over the season.
Such neck-and-neck finishes are rare.
Prior to 1989 the last time it happened was 1965 when
Manchester United and Leeds United finished level on points and
Manchester took the title under a system that separated the
sides on average goals scored over the 42 games of the season.
On paper, Manchester City have the harder games left this
season and that makes United favourites to win the title,
according to City manager Roberto Mancini.
City's last two matches are at Newcastle United, who are
chasing a Champions League place, and home to
relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers.
United, meanwhile, will host Swansea City and travel to
Sunderland, both opponents safe in mid-table.
Gary Neville, who retired as a United player last season,
told Sky Sports that losing the title on goal difference was
manager Sir Alex Ferguson's "worst nightmare".
"Losing a championship on goal difference is what he always
talks about, every single season," said Neville.
"In January, in February, in March, whatever month it is,
going for a championship he will say: 'If you're 1-0, 2-0 up,
score three, score four'.
"You never know whether it's going to get to goal
Neville said United had passed up opportunities to boost
their goal difference during the season.
"Look at games like Fulham at home 1-0, QPR at home 2-0, and
it's these sort of things you look back at during a season an
think, 'we could we have done more'.
"It is his worst nightmare."
As events unfolded on Monday, Ferguson probably thought he
was in the midst of a bad dream and lost his temper with Mancini
at one point as the pressure boiled over on the touchline in the
Ferguson told ESPN he thought Mancini had been "badgering
officials" during the match.
The United manager was also frustrated after his defensive
4-5-1 system made little headway against City and hardly created
a chance in the game.
The only goal came when City skipper Vincent Kompany headed
home from a corner just before halftime and completed a league
double over United this season following a 6-1 win in October.
While goal difference may yet have a say, taking six points
from their closest rivals could be the key factor in giving
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