Manchester United have put one hand on the Premiership Cup after climbing eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City through a controversial victory over QPR on Sunday afternoon (UK time) as Roberto Mancini's men faltered at Arsenal.
In what may prove a season-defining day in the Premier League, goals to Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes proved enough to give United a 2-0 victory over 10-man QPR at Old Trafford, a result that puts them in the driver's seat to claim their 20th League title early next month.
However, Patrick Vieira's accusation of biased refereeing towards United at their home venue again raised its ugly head after the Red Devils were awarded a controversial penalty early in the first half in an incident that saw Shaun Derry sent off for Rangers.
In the 15th minute, England winger Ashley Young appeared to receive a through-ball from Rooney in an off-side position before going down under the slightest of touches from Derry in the box.
Rubbing salt into the wounds for QPR was the fact that the flag stayed down, Derry was sent for an early shower and Rooney stepped up to stroke the penalty home, giving United the lead.
The Manchester side had admittedly dominated proceedings to that point and a goal would probably have been the end result of that pressure, but QPR will still feel hard done by in this instance.
QPR had the chance to level when Adel Taarabt robbed Rafael of possession close to goal, but in-form United defender Jonny Evans was on hand to make a timely block, before Manchester went on the attack again as a delicate lob from Rooney forced QPR stopper Paddy Kenny into a quality save.
The hosts continued to press during the second half but Antonio Valencia had a goal ruled out for offside before Rafael forced Kenny into a point-blank save.
But Scholes managed to double the advantage in the 68th minute as he smashed home a 20-yard strike before his team-mate Michael Carrick almost upstaged him, just hitting the wood-work with a 30-yard drive.
The result was still good enough for United to win their eighth consecutive match and their ninth from the last 10 as they climbed eight points clear of a faltering City on the Premiership table as QPR maintain 17th, hovering above the relegation zone on 28 points, the same number as 18th-placed Blackburn.
City, though, had the opportunity to reduce United's lead back to five points later in the afternoon as they travelled to Arsenal but found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss, a result that may have seen the volatile Mario Balotelli play his last game under Mancini.
Arsenal had enjoyed the better of the chances but left it late to secure the result as Mikel Arteta drilled home a 25-yard strike three minutes from time.
Capping off an awful day for City, Balotelli was dismissed for a second-yellow card for a late challenge on Bacary Sagna, meaning he faces an automatic three-match suspension.
However, the Italian striker probably should have been dismissed for an earlier studs-up challenge on Alex Song, an incident that was missed by referee Martin Atkinson, who had his view obscured.
But as the Balotelli wasn't punished for that tackle, he may face further sanction on top of the mandatory three-match ban, possibly ending his career at City with just six matches of the campaign remaining.