Edwin van der Sar believes Manchester United are in a good position for the challenge ahead after their derby win over City.
Sunday's victory at Eastlands came courtesy of Wayne Rooney's 42nd minute winner which reduced the deficit on leaders Chelsea to five points with a game in hand.
Van der Sar believes it was a crucial win to keep up with the pace given United will miss a game against Wigan later this month when they head to Japan for the Fifa Club World Cup.
He gave particular praise to 18-year-old defender Rafael for his great performance in the win.
The Dutch keeper told the Manchester Evening News: ""I didn't get a touch for the first 30 minutes because we were playing so well.
"At that point it was all about concentration for me and the defence. In the second half it got a bit more difficult.
"They didn't have too many clear-cut chances because we defended really well. Rio, Nemanja and Patrice were great but Rafael at 18 played extremely well up against someone like Robinho.
"We never gave them a sniff and a good defence forms the foundation for success.
"It was a much-needed win for us and we need to keep getting three points in all our matches as in a couple of weeks when we play in the Fifa Club World Cup we will miss another game when we are in Japan.
"It is easier when you are on top but we are the team having to chase this time and we cannot afford to drop points."
United have now visited all their 'big four' rivals, as well as Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Man City, and Van der Sar believes they are in good shape for the challenge ahead.
He added: "We feel quite comfortable. The only thing you can do is win your own games.
"Every club has 38 matches to play and somehow we have to find a date where we can play those extra games.
"Hopefully it won't be too late, but either way, our task is quite straightforward. We just have to get more points than the others."