By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
The Premier League season enters what could be a defining weekend for both Manchester clubs this weekend as United host Villa and City travel to Norwich.
Wigan’s shock 1-0 victory over United in midweek combined with City’s 4-0 demolition of West Brom have reignited the title chase as the Old Trafford club’s lead was cut to five points.
The upcoming derby at the Etihad Stadium on April 30 could prove to be the key game in deciding where the title ends up this season.
Despite the resounding home win over WBA, City boss Roberto Mancini declared post match that the title race is ‘finished’, and a team like United would not drop five points.
Whether this is frank honesty or the Italian’s attempt at mind games, only he knows, however it is hard to disagree with him about the chances of United slipping up again.
Sir Alex Ferguson has countered Mancini’s comments, indicating he believes there is still a chance for City.
He said: "There are five games still to go. The twists and turns of the Premier League, it's fascinating."
The Scot was also quick to dismiss recent bad results for both clubs – including the Wigan defeat and City’s loss to Arsenal last weekend, saying that losing points in the second half of the season is part and parcel of the run in.
"We have to put it in a bit of perspective. You drop points in the second half of the season. We have done it most years.”
"There has been an odd year when we have gone on a long run without losing but a couple of years back we lost 4-1 to Liverpool and won the league.”
"You do drop points on the run-in. Both City and ourselves have both experienced that.”
United host Alex McLeish’s side and will be strong favourites to record their seventh straight home victory of 2012, with the Birmingham club having won just 2 of their last 13 games.
The Villans risk being drawn into the relegation battle if they are not careful, given recent victories for QPR, Bolton and Blackburn.
City travel to surprise package Norwich City tomorrow, with the Canaries sitting comfortably in mid table in their first season back in the top flight.
Wednesday’s win over West Brom was City’s first in four games, whilst Norwich earned an excellent victory over Tottenham last weekend.
As City play tomorrow with United a day later, a victory for Mancini’s men would cut the lead, albeit for 24 hours at least, to just two points.
This would ramp up the pressure on Fergie’s team to secure a result against Villa on Sunday, though the mercurial Paul Scholes is set for a recall after being rested against Wigan.
The 37-year-old has earned much praise since coming out of retirement in January and has turned claims of desperation on United’s part to being instrumental in the club regaining the lead in the chase for the title.
Wherever the title ends up, you can guarantee there will be much drama and intrigue before the end of the season. And we didn’t even mention Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli!
Follow Steven Oldham on Twitter - @spoldham