Ashley Young
Manchester United's Young celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against Tottenham Hotspur during their English Premier League match at White Hart Lane in London. REUTERS

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen believes Manchester United's recent run of form gives them a "psychological" edge in the title race and has backed the defending Premier League champions to beat their city rivals to the title.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side maintained the pressure on league leaders Manchester City with a 3-1 victory at Tottenham on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini's side went five points clear at the top when they beat Bolton Wanderers on Saturday - but Manchester United responded in emphatic fashion at White Hart Lane to close the gap once more.

And Hansen insists recent results have altered the complexion of this season's title race and the former Liverpool defender has backed Manchester United overhaul their city rivals in the last 11 games.

"I believe that United just have the edge and, if I had to back one of them to win the league from this point, I would favour them," Hansen told the Telegraph.

"There is also the motivational factor of United being determined to stop their neighbours and city rivals becoming top dogs in Manchester.

"United have been on top for so long that they will not want to contemplate surrendering their position to City."

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said his side were "up for the challenge" in the wake of Sunday's win and remains adamant that they are well positioned to retain the title after coming through a tough run of games.

And Hansen supported Ferguson's comments, saying that the pressure was on Manchester City following United's impressive recent performances.

"Although Manchester United would prefer to be two points clear of Manchester City rather than two points adrift, there is no doubt their recent results will have had a psychological impact on the title race," the former Liverpool captain said.

"No matter what footballers say about not looking at the forthcoming fixtures of their rivals, I can tell you from experience that that is total nonsense.

"It is human nature to look at the games coming up and attempt to pick out the matches where your closest challengers will slip up and drop points and, six weeks ago, the City players would have seen United facing games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham and expected them to find it tough."

Manchester United's clash against City on 30 April is the only one of the sides' remaining 11 games not against a team in mid-table or below - a fact Hansen considers crucial in the title run-in.

"Clearly, the game between the two teams at the Etihad Stadium on April 30 is going to be pivotal.

"Home advantage in that game, and their current two-point lead, ensure that City have something in their favour in what will be an intriguing run-in," Hansen added. "But a quick glance at the fixtures between now and then suggests that City will do well to be on top when they face United.

"Roberto Mancini's team must face Chelsea at home and Arsenal away. United, on the other hand, don't play another top-six team until they face City.

"But the reality is that there are no easy games now. United have discovered that to their cost this season in losing at home to Blackburn and then being beaten at Newcastle.

"They have also been hammered 6-1 by City and suffered an early Champions League exit, but while those defeats and setbacks would send a lot of teams under, United have picked themselves up and got on with it and they just keep getting results."