Despite falling 12 points off the Premier League leaders after defeat to Everton, Manchester United have been backed by both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho to mount a title challenge in the months to come after neither would rule out the reigning champions.
A late Bryan Oviedo goal gave Everton their first win at Old Trafford in over 20 years – something David Moyes was never able to do during his time in charge of the Toffees – and the Red Devils have now slipped to ninth place after suffering a fourth league defeat of the season.
Having seen his side triumph 2-0 against Hull City, and the decision to start forgotten striker Nicklas Bendtner vindicated after he scored within two minutes, Wenger maintains that United cannot be ruled out of the title race at this stage of the season.
“It’s still early,” said the Frenchman.
“It’s a surprising defeat but it’s still early. We’ve seen it before - 12 points on us - but of course we just have to keep winning to have a chance and not worry too much about the others.”
While Arsenal continued to lead the way at the top of the table, Chelsea ensured that the pressure remained on the Gunners with their entertaining 4-2 win at Sunderland, where Eden Hazard stole the show as he scored a brace for the Blues.
“It's difficult but with Manchester United everything is possible,” Mourinho said after the victory.
However, Moyes admitted that his side’s hopes of retaining their title had suffered a major setback, and accepted that they now need an exemplary run of form to get them back in the hunt.
"We will need to play some great football and win an awful lot of games in the run-in if we are going to be in there and around it come the end of the season," said Moyes, following the Old Trafford defeat.