Manchester United face Aston Villa this weekend, a match which kick-starts a period over the next few weeks where they could have a real chance put good distance between themselves and their title-rivals.
Villa's record against United recently is abysmal, having won only once against the Red Devils in the last thirty-one matches. Only Sunderland and QPR have scored less goals than Villa this term, so even United's defensive problems may not come under much scrutiny in this fixture.
There is a school of thought that says that Robin Van Persie may wonder to himself just where would his new side lie in the EPL table without his presence and there is some worry that United are already far too reliant on him. I rather have the opinion that the Dutchman knows that Sir Alex Ferguson is building a team for the next few years that will play towards RVP's strengths.
He will know that he has become the final ingredient in a recipe that could well cook up some remarkable results this season. His skill and eye for goal coupled with the drive and tenacity that United have in spades means that he is at a club that will certainly be vying for the EPL title next May.
If RVP can keep up his wonderful form over the next few matches, starting with what should be a routine win against Aston Villa, there should be some rich-pickings to be had.
There has been a frantic start to the season so far, that has included losses in a sticky opening match against Everton and an in-form Tottenham Hotspur, followed by two fraught matches against Chelsea in the EPL and League Cup—not to mention Arsenal and old rivals Liverpool.
The next five games, however, are eminently winnable, and compared with the matches that the main title rivals have in the same period, United should be left in a great position going into the Manchester derby match against City on December 9th.
No match is a pushover in the EPL, but the fixture list for the next five games reads: Aston Villa (away), Norwich (away), QPR (home), West Ham (home), Reading (away). A run of games that this United side should have no problem in overcoming, on current form.
The fact that the Reds have already qualified for the all-important knockout stages of the Uefa Champions League, means that Sir Alex is in the great position where he can now rest players in the remaining two group matches and concentrate on the EPL. Not only that, but the UCL matches will be excellent tests for those players that he chooses to pick, meaning that the whole squad should be fresh and match-ready.
On paper, United's main title rivals both look to have at least two much tougher matches in their next five games.
This weekend, Chelsea face a Liverpool side that is desperate to start making a mark in this season's campaign, whereas City are up against a Spurs side that is blowing hot and cold at the moment. The two then meet each other on November 25th, where you would expect points to be shared. Following that, City also have a tricky home tie against Everton, who have caused the Blues problems many times recently at the Etihad stadium.
Add in to the mix the unfinished, energy-sapping business that City and Chelsea have in the Champions League, with Juventus hosting Chelsea and both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund lying in wait for City, it could be a defining period in the season, and we have not even reached the busy festive period yet.
By the time the Manchester derby is upon us, if United take the chance to ease up in the UCL and push on in the Premier League, there could already be a very nice gap open between the two cross-city rivals.