Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is remaining upbeat about the Reds' title hopes - despite losing to his brother over Christmas.
Ferdinand says he had an "awful Christmas period" after United lost 2-1 to West Ham, with his brother Anton scoring against his team.
But, the West Ham loss aside, second-placed United won all three of their other festive games to give themselves a fighting chance of retaining their Premier League crown.
Speaking of the situation, Ferdinand said: "We are still there or thereabouts in the league and if we had been offered this position at the start of the season, we would have taken it.
"But nine points from four games over Christmas is not satisfactory for me at all.
"I have had an awful Christmas period, losing to West Ham and my brother scoring as well. But sometimes, you have to take these things on the chin and make sure they don't happen again."
Ferdinand believes United's defensive record can be the platform to win the league.
He added: "We have a good record defensively. That is the platform we can build on to be a championship-winning team. It happened last year and it would be great if it happened again."
Meanwhile, with Arsenal and Chelsea also hitting top form, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes this year's title race could be the closest experienced in a long time.
"The run-in could be exciting for the first time in a long time, with other teams involved," he said.
"Hopefully we will be involved because we have the players to do it."
On the plus side, United's squad will be boosted by the return of several long-term injury casualties. Park Ji-Sung has returned from a cruciate operation, Gary Neville is set to play soon, while Paul Scholes is likely to return from mid-February.
While United's squad is being bolstered by these returns, challengers Arsenal and Chelsea are both about to lose players to the African Nations Cup.
They also have the disadvantage of playing two extra games in January after progressing to the Carling Cup semi-finals.