'So, with City facing a slightly easier pair of fixtures (Reading at home, Sunderland away), United can't afford to slip up.'
These were Nick Miller's wise words before Christmas (and before Nottingham Forest chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi made him cry) but the festive fixtures served up a steamer for City and they now sit closer to West Brom in sixth than United in first.
"It's no problem, seven points," said Roberto Mancini on Thursday. "We know United are a fantastic team and probably they will win every game, but the season is long and it is not important if it is six or seven or four points."
Firstly, it isn't six or four points, Roberto, it's seven. And secondly, please tell me you realise that if United win every game they'll be crowned champions.
Of course, seven points at this stage isn't an insurmountable gap - City bridged eight points in the final six matches last season - but if you're making Reading and Sunderland look good, it's pretty clear that you have problems.
Perhaps the most worrying thing for Mancini is that his strongest strike partnership - Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez - have failed to fire in the last two matches, with Gareth Barry (!) required to save City's bacon against Reading and just seven of 23 shots hitting the target in the 1-0 defeat to Sunderland.
Mancini will hope that Tevez and Aguero will rekindle their form at Norwich - where the duo hit five goals between them last season - but if they don't, the manager is currently lacking options to freshen up the first team. Edin Dzeko has lost his goalscoring touch in recent weeks (his last strike came against Spurs at the start of November), while poorly Mario Balotelli has only scored once in the league this season.
With Norwich having already demonstrated their ability to sneak narrow wins this campaign and Stoke possessing the most frugal defence in the top flight, it won't be easy for City to suddenly burst back into form in front of goal.
Mancini preferred Pablo Zabaleta to Joleon Lescott at left-back against Sunderland, with Kolo Toure starting on the right. For whatever reason, it appears the manager has lost faith in the England defender and he should probably use the next two matches to hold up a sign on the subs' bench saying 'Please buy me'.
Rafa has done his bit; it's now time for the fans to give him their support as Chelsea threaten to return to the fray in the title race.
The good news for Lambert is that it's almost impossible for his Villa team to perform worse than they did over Christmas in the New Year fixtures. If they somehow manage to concede more than 12 goals at home to Wigan and away to Swansea, it's only right that Villa should neatly pack up their belongings and bid adieu to the top flight without delay.
Before the Christmas hiccup, Lambert had demonstrated impressive tactical flexibility in Villa's six-match unbeaten run, switching the team's shape on several occasions to address the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. Against Stoke, for example, Lambert played with wing-backs to counter the Potters' packed midfield, while he has also experimented with Gabby Agbonlahor and Brett Holman on the wings to stretch slower teams such as QPR.
Lambert will need to continue using his nous to get the best out of his youthful team in the next two matches, and Villa must recover quickly to avoid being dragged deep into the relegation mire. Wigan on Saturday is a must-win game.
Two wins in 13 matches, 21 goals conceded in that period and several key first-team players absent - things are bleak for Newcastle and Pardew at the moment. A win against either Arsenal or Everton would help lift the mood.
It's inevitable that United will slip up again this season through their own inability to put in a convincing 90-minute performance.
Sir Alex Ferguson may have praised his 'phenomenal' team after the last-gasp win over a threadbare and demoralised Newcastle side, but in truth they are a ticking timebomb, lumbering from one sluggish performance to the next, ready to implode at any moment. It could be at home to West Brom on Saturday, it could be away to Wigan on Tuesday, where defeat last season proved to be crucial in the title race. That's the beauty of it, we just don't know when it's going to happen.
Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans
As you may have read in Numbers and Stats, United have conceded 14 goals in the last seven games when Ferdinand and Evans have both started. They should improve that statistic against West Brom and Wigan - I triple dare them to keep a clean sheet.
A 3-2 victory over Liverpool last season proved to be the turning point in QPR's survival battle as they fought back from two goals down with three strikes in the final 15 minutes. The Rs won four of their remaining nine games to beat the drop and a similar result and spirited performance on Sunday could provide the same boost.
Sunderland away could be tricky, but just focus on beating Reading at home on Tuesday, Andre. We don't want the boos to return.
Don't sign Franco Di Santo, for a start. Also, a few more wins would help. Oh, and don't use the word 'outstanding' so much. Follow these three invaluable pieces of advice and the 14-point gap to second place will soon start to shrink.
Liverpool should ease past a woeful QPR side and a Sunderland team who see the ball as an enemy - especially considering neither are in the top half - but inept recent performances against Stoke and Aston Villa suggest the Reds could struggle.
Liverpool are currently on the same points total they achieved in Roy Hodgson's first 19 Premier League games in charge but, despite Hodgson receiving his marching orders after defeat in the 20th, Rodgers should receive until the end of the season at least to try and improve the Reds' fortunes.
However, now we are at the half-way point in the campaign, Rodgers' project seems rather like the Emperor's New Clothes, as the manager shuffles along awkwardly attesting to improvement that is difficult to see. Rodgers knows his team need to show more consistency and back-to-back wins over the New Year would restore faith in his approach.
Arsenal are only ever one poor result away from a crisis, so it's important that Arsene Wenger's side don't slip up to struggling Newcastle or Southampton over the New Year, especially considering the Gunners have had an extra rest.
You're such a likeable fellow, Martin, but Fulham have won only one of their last 11 matches and look really rather poor at the moment.
Graham has struggled to pick up starts under Michael Laudrup this season but, with Michu suffering an ankle injury against Reading, the striker may have a chance to prove his worth.
Matt Stanger - he's on Twitter.