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He'd rather his team were in first place, but Sir Alex Ferguson insists that United are perfectly capable of reeling in Arsenal's five point Premiership lead. After all, they've done it before....

Manchester United's 2-1 defeat to City in the derby, combined with Arsenal's win over Blackburn Rovers, gave the Gunners a five point lead in the league table with twelve games left to play.

But Sir Alex Ferguson never had any doubts about his side's ability to overhaul Arsenal and become Premiership champions yet again. And after they mauled the Gunners 4-0 in the FA Cup last weekend, the Old Trafford boss is convinced of it.

Five And Easy

United have won the Premiership nine times since it began in the 1992/93 season and Fergie is well aware that his side have often been behind at this point in the season. In 1993 they overtook first Norwich City and then Aston Villa to claim the inaugral trophy.
Three years later it was Kevin Keegan's Newcastle - whom they face at St James' Park today, whom they snatched the league title away from - this time coming back from a 12-point deficit.

Gunners' History

And against Arsenal, too, the Red Devils has proved they can stage a revival. In 2003 Arsene Wenger's side had an eight point lead over Fergie's men, but that didn't stop United lifting the big prize in May. Given all his experience, Fergie can be categorically clear: at this stage of the season, five points is nothing.

"It is not easy playing catch-up but we've done it in the past," said the Scot. "We have come back before and our experience in that sense counts. We came from behind in 1993 and of course against Newcastle. Even in 1995, when Blackburn won it, we made up 11 points - and should have won it at the end.

No More Margin For Error

"We cannot afford many slip-ups now," Ferguson warned, however. "We have to motor on and get a consistency about us in the hope that our immediate rivals drop points.â€

It's also worth considering that in 1998 Fergie's side threw away the biggest points cushion in Premier League history, throwing away a 13 point advantage as Arsenal swept to victory.
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