Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has played down talk of Sunday's 1-0 defeat at West Ham being a major turning point in the title race.
The Red Devils saw their lead over Chelsea at the top of the table cut from eight to just two points in the last five days, but after Nigel Reo-Coker struck the decisive blow in Sunday's defeat at Upton Park, Ferguson refused to press the panic button.
"The championship race is not going to be decided in December," said the defiant United chief.
"There are a lot of important games to come and I am happy with the form of my team - they are playing well.
"We've got to show our mettle, that's the hallmark of champions and we've proved that many times in the past, and this team is young enough to do that.
"We're two points clear. It's not been great for us in the sense of dropping points over Chelsea and they have come from behind, which is a bit of luck for them in this situation.
"But the championship was not going to be won in December anyway, but what it does tell you is that once you get to January you have a good idea of how you're placed.
"The Christmas period is always fraught with difficulties in terms of squad rotation and when to rest players, so a lot of decisions will be made, but I'm happy with the form of the team, they're playing well."