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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Van Persie glad to end title 'pain'

Robin van Persie has said he will be delighted to end the "pain" of not winning trophies as Manchester United close in on the Premier League title.

• Payne: Old guard key after international break

Van Persie, 29, moved to United from Arsenal having won only two medals in his career - the 2002 UEFA Cup with Feyenoord and the 2005 FA Cup with the Gunners.

But he is set win his first league title in his first season. United are 15 points clear of Manchester City with only 24 points still available, and are still in the FA Cup, facing Chelsea in a quarter-final replay on Monday.

"That I'll probably win my first championship is very nice," Van Persie was quoted as saying in the Guardian. "I'm really thrilled about it. Not winning titles has given me quite some pain, and it has made me greyer.

"It still has to happen. We have to go to Sunderland and West Ham, and we have to play Chelsea [in Monday's FA Cup replay]. If we win, we play back-to-back against City in the league and the FA Cup semi-final.

"Then we have Stoke. These are not summer night games. I watched United drop the lead last season, but it's getting awfully close now and I'm really happy with that."

Van Persie has drawn strength from team-mate Rio Ferdinand, who had not won any silverware until joining United in 2002.

"He told me there was a time he thought he'd never become a champion," Van Persie said. "He was becoming totally crazy because of it.

"But he told me: 'If you get the first one... well man, that tastes so good and you only want more. That then becomes the standard, the only thing that counts. Anything less isn't good enough any more'.

"Rio had to wait a long time before he became champion, and so have I."

Van Persie might have 23 goals to his name this season but is on a run of only one in 10 games.

His last club goal came in the 2-0 win over Everton on February 10, but his scoring touch returned during the international break when he scored three goals in two World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Romania.

"The key is to keep working hard," he added. "I've also missed some luck. If you analyse my chances, my efforts went just over or on or next to the woodwork.

"You always have these kind of periods in a season and it's important to train hard, do a lot of finishing work and then, all of a sudden, it will get back and the goals will come. I have quality. I haven't lost that along the way."

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