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MANCHESTER - Ryan Giggs, below, has warned his Manchester United teammates that one more slip-up could hand the Premier League title to Arsenal.
The champions have been left skating on thin ice after their London rivals pulled five points clear at the top of the table by beating Blackburn on Monday night, a day after United lost to local rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford.
"We have to make sure we don't produce any more performances like Sunday's," Giggs admitted. "We probably can't afford to drop any more points."
Since emerging from a sluggish start to their season, United have been regarded by most pundits as strong favourites to hold off an inexperienced Arsenal side and retain their title.
But they have never been able to pull away from Arsene Wenger's revitalised young squad and now, with only 12 games left, the Gunners have opened up what could be a critical advantage.
Giggs admitted the City defeat was fundamentally down to United's players not producing the goods on the day, distancing himself from assistant manager Carlos Queiroz's attempt to blame the setback on the fatiguing impact of last week's international friendlies.
"The team just did not perform as they have done all season," said the veteran Welsh winger. "It was probably the result City deserved really. They played better.
"City scored at important times and we didn't recover. They could just sit back then try to catch us on the counter-attack. Defensively we didn't play well. Attacking-wise, we just didn't turn up."
The title race's tilt in favour of Arsenal has increased the stakes involved in Saturday's FA Cup fifth round clash between the two sides at Old Trafford. - Sapa-AFP