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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

It's business time for Scholes

Paul Scholes views the resumption of the Champions League as the beginning of the end for Manchester United this season.

• Berbatov eyes new deal
• Crawley ban 'Munich fan'
• Park out for four weeks

Although United are not in action this week, the resumption of hostilities across Europe, including Wednesday's mouthwatering clash between Arsenal and Barcelona at Emirates Stadium, marks the emergence from the depths of winter.

And for Scholes, it is also the start of a run-in to what he hopes will be a glorious end to the season.

"It's the sign for the run-in,'' he said. "It just kind of happens without you knowing it. You know there are 12 games left in the league, the FA Cup is getting down to the latter stages and Europe is starting again. Every game becomes more important. It is the time to stand up and start playing.''

United could not have made a better start, securing a derby-day victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford. As that result - and Chelsea's failure to overcome Fulham at Craven Cottage on Monday - have virtually turned the title race into a straight fight between United and Arsenal, the Red Devils could do with Arsene Wenger's men coming out on top in north London on Wednesday.

On the basis that the more matches Arsenal have to play, the less likely they are able to eat into United's four-point advantage at the top of the table, it will presumably be the same on Sunday, when the Gunners make a short journey to Leyton Orient in the FA Cup.

However, Scholes only has eyes for United's own opponents, non-league Crawley, and then Didier Deschamps' Marseille, who stand between United and a place in the Champions League quarter-finals, where they lost in agonising fashion to Bayern Munich last season.

"Marseille won't be easy,'' he said. "It's a tough place. We played there before quite a few years ago and got beaten. But we are looking forward to it. Hopefully it is the start of a good end to the season for us and we can go all the way to the final again and win it.''

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