Manchester City closed the gap to rivals United to 12 points with a dominant 2-0 win over Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The champions' dominant display was rewarded with quality second-half goals from Yaya Toure and substitute Carlos Tevez.
Yaya Toure's 63rd-minute opener came shortly after Joe Hart had atoned for clumsily conceding a penalty by launching himself to his right to keep out Frank Lampard's spot-kick.
Tevez sealed the win five minutes from time to help City pull seven points clear of third-placed Chelsea and keep some pressure on English Premier League leaders Manchester United.
The visitors looked jaded in the first half as City poured forward in droves and at times threatened to tear them apart.
The hosts' main tactical ploy was to target the right side of Chelsea's defence and free up either Gael Clichy or David Silva on the overlap.
Jack Rodwell made a series of excellent runs into the box and his height was a real danger to the opposition.
The former Everton man could have had a hat-trick in the opening half but Chelsea held firm through a combination of last-gasp defending, the safe hands of Petr Cech and some mixed finishing.
Five minutes into the second half, a long ball sent Chelsea striker Demba Ba bearing down on the City goal.
Despite being covered by Kolo Toure, Hart came rushing out to harass the Senegal striker, who left his foot in and was taken down by the England number one.
The goalkeeper atoned for his error of judgement by flinging himself low to his right to keep out Lampard's penalty.
Ten minute later, City's supporters had even more reason to celebrate.
Yaya Toure collected the ball from Silva in the box, surged past two defenders and, confronted by the presence of Gary Cahill, opened up his body to guide a wonderfully composed finish past the grasp of Cech.
The game opened up as Chelsea searched for an equaliser but Rafael Benitez's team were too sloppy in possession to cause City much angst.
The home side were rewarded for their perseverance with a second goal after 85 minutes.
Silva was once again the creator, laying a pass into the path of Tevez, who struck a thunderbolt past Cech to seal the points for the hosts.