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Ferguson's faith in Latics to hijack Blues' title party

Alex Ferguson is keeping his fingers crossed that Wigan can defy the odds to give Manchester United a final chance to claim a fourth successive Premier League title.

United can only snatch the big prize from the Blues' grasp if Roberto Martinez's men deny them victory at Stamford Bridge next Sunday while United beat Stoke at Old Trafford as a result of away wins for the top two at Sunderland and Liverpool respectively.

Ferguson admits that may be a tall order even though Wigan did beat Chelsea 3-1 at home in September, but he is refusing to give up on his dream.

He said: "City did us a great turn by beating them (Chelsea) twice, and they are another neighbour...

"Listen, we are clutching at straws a little bit, but the important thing is for us to win our game and enjoy it in front of our fans.

"There will be 76,000 there, we will play the right way and we will play with a lot of dignity in our game. You never know. It would be an incredible achievement. It wouldn't be done again. Four in a row, certainly by any team, would be quite an achievement.

"We will look to stretch it out, keep the nerves going. You never know."

United kept themselves in with a chance by becoming just the third away team this season to win at the Stadium of Light.


Nani secured the victory with a 28th-minute strike, but the result remained in the melting pot all the way to the whistle as they failed to make the most of the chances they created thereafter.

Dimitar Berbatov might have claimed a hat-trick on another day, but poor finishing and good goalkeeping from Craig Gordon kept he and his team-mates at bay.

Sunderland threatened early on when John Mensah and Lorik Cana flashed headers just wide and Steed Malbranque forced an excellent save from Edwin van der Sar, but they never really looked like rescuing a point once Nani had put the visitors in front.

Ferguson's players knew what had happened at Anfield, where Steven Gerrard's woeful first-half back-pass had allowed Didier Drogba to send the visitors on their way to a 2-0 win, before kick-off, and were sent out under orders to enjoy themselves. "I just saw it (Drogba's goal) after the game," Ferguson said. "It was a great gift. There's nothing we can do about it now, we just have to get on with it.

"I just said, 'We know the result, there's nothing we can do about it, just go and enjoy yourself. Play our way, the Manchester United way and express yourselves', and they did that."

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce's disappointment was compounded by a suspected cruciate knee ligament injury to young midfielder David Meyler, who will face months on the sidelines if the Black Cats' fears are confirmed.