Who will win the Prem?
Analyzing Manchester City and Manchester United's remaining games
For a while Wednesday, Manchester City's title hopes in the Premier League appeared to be extinguished. Manager Roberto Mancini sensed it, cutting an increasingly frustrated, impatient figure on the touchline.
But the introduction of Carlos Tevez midway in the second half changed the complexion, and City rallied for a 2-1 win against Chelsea. Tevez received mostly cheers as he walked on to the pitch, but any City fans who booed him upon his arrival weren't jeering after he set up Samir Nasri -- the home team's best player on the night -- for the late winner.
As a result, City improved to 69 points, one shy of United's 70, with nine games remaining.
After assessing their remaining fixtures, including the Manchester derby on April 30, this author also has the margin of victory at one point when the season ends. But which Manchester team will win the title?
Fulham (H): A home banker. The Cottagers might have changed managers over the years, but there's one constant: They don't travel well. United has won eight in a row against Fulham at Old Trafford, outscoring the West Londoners 22-4, and crushed Fulham 5-0 away in December. Fulham hasn't even scored at Old Trafford in six years. Points: 3
Blackburn (A): The performances have generally been there for Blackburn this season. Now, finally, the points are coming for Steve Kean too. Blackburn is 3-1-1 in its past five games, playing better since unloading want-away central defender Christopher Samba, and relegation worries have eased. Blackburn engineered a shock 3-2 win at Old Trafford in December and has lost only once to United at Ewood Park since 2007. Points: 1
QPR (H): Dead and buried against Liverpool, trailing 2-0 on Wednesday, QPR pulled off a once-in-a-decade comeback by scoring three times in the final 13 minutes to win. Schoolboy Liverpool defending heavily contributed. But QPR's two games before United are at Sunderland and at home to Arsenal. Momentum killers, even if Sunderland has one eye on its FA Cup replay. Points: 3
Wigan (A): Roberto Martinez's team continues to be nice to watch. He's sticking to his philosophy, irrespective of results, and owner Dave Whelan is sticking with him. However, Wigan has wasted far too many chances in front of goal, and that will likely send the Latics to the second tier come season's end. Martinez won't park the bus against United, which is what he should do. United has won five straight against Wigan, scoring 21 goals and not conceding. Points: 3
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Aston Villa (H): Not involved in any cup competitions, not in a position to challenge for a spot in Europe, and safe from relegation, it could be said that Aston Villa has nothing to play for. Can't argue with that. Playing at home would boost the motivation, although Villa rarely beat United at Villa Park anyway. Points: 3
Everton (H): Regardless of where Everton is in the standings, David Moyes generally always ensures his team puts in a solid shift. But if Everton reaches the FA Cup semifinals, that game is a week before the visit to Old Trafford. A loss in the semis and the Toffees would be deflated; a victory and Moyes would surely rest some key players, a la vs. Liverpool. Points: 3
Manchester City (A): The potential title decider? United's loss to City 6-1 at home hit Fergie hard. That, though, was in October, and titles aren't won in the fall. Further, United won on its last visit to the Etihad Stadium, in January's FA Cup thriller. From the Citizens' perspective, they could blame the cup loss on a red card, and Wednesday's comeback against Chelsea might lead them to believe they're untouchable in the league at home. Points: 1
Swansea (H): Unlike Wigan, Swansea's aesthetically pleasing soccer has come with end product. Oh, and its defense is much better. For many Swansea players, this will be their first visit to Old Trafford, a nice way to end an unexpectedly smooth first campaign after promotion. But away to other members of the top five, Swansea is 0-3 thus far, breached on nine occasions. Points: 3
Sunderland (A): The FA Cup final takes place May 5, a week before the final round of Premier League fixtures. Sunderland might be there, and if so, the distraction and subsequent result would benefit United. A win and Sunderland's players would still be partying; a loss and they'd be shattered. But the odds suggest Sunderland won't be at Wembley in May, which means the Black Cats will be fully focused playing in front of their demanding fans. Points: 1
Projected Points Total: 91
Stoke (A): We all know how well, and how imposing, Stoke City plays at home in front of its vocal supporters. But after Wednesday, the teams' mood couldn't be more different. While City benefited from those two late goals to overcome Chelsea, Stoke conceded in injury time to surrender two points at Tottenham. Ergo, look for City to end its 13-year drought at Britannia Stadium. Points: 3
Sunderland (H): Martin O'Neill has revived Sunderland, doing well at yet another club, and Sunderland stunned City 1-0 in a pulsating contest on New Year's Day. However, it was at home. Sunderland might also be fatigued, mentally and physically, because it has a midweek FA Cup replay. Points: 3
Arsenal (A): Arsenal may be sizzling at the moment, but Arsenal fans will tell you there's always an uncertainty about how the Gunners will play on a particular day. Yet the signs are good, and Arsenal is getting closer to locking down a Champions League spot. Manchester City last won a league game at Arsenal in 1975, so expect that drought to continue. Points: 1
West Brom (H): Roy Hodgson has brought stability to West Brom. A yo-yo club if there ever was one, the Baggies are set to survive two consecutive seasons in the Premier League, and things have gone so well this season that WBA may finish in the top 10 in the Premier League for the first time. Nicking a point at home against City in December was another positive; getting anything in Manchester will be much more difficult. Points: 3
Norwich City (A): The way the Canaries play, they'll give it a go. Grant Holt is a handful up front for defenders; if for some reason he doesn't start, Steve Morison is an equally burly striker, albeit less of a goal-scoring threat. Norwich, though, tends to concede goals. Points: 3
Wolves (A): Will Wolves be playing as poorly on April 22 as they are now? Probably, unless they get another new manager to shake things up. Gaining a reputation for testing the top teams at Molineux after results last season, Wolves lost to Tottenham and Chelsea this campaign. They were then drubbed 5-0 by United this month. Points: 3
Manchester United (H): The potential title decider? United's loss to City 6-1 at home hit Fergie hard. That, though, was in October, and titles aren't won in the fall. Further, United won on its last visit to the Etihad Stadium, in January's FA Cup thriller. From the Citizens' perspective, they could blame the cup loss on a red card, and Wednesday's comeback against Chelsea might lead them to believe they're untouchable in the league at home. Points: 1
Newcastle (A): The Magpies might be in the hunt for a place in Europe, and 50,000 screaming Geordies will be spurring them on. Newcastle, therefore, should have sufficient motivation. Newcastle held Arsenal and Tottenham to a draw at home -- and beat United. City already dropped points once in the Northeast. Points: 1
QPR (H): "Sparky" Mark Hughes and QPR will either have been relegated or be fighting for their lives to stay up on the final day. If it's the former, Hughes, the ex-United striker, would surely like to deprive City if the title race goes to the final day -- which it likely will. Whatever Rangers' predicament, Hughes will leave the Etihad empty-handed. Points: 3
Projected Points Total: 90
So, the Red Devils to repeat.
London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.