Second-place Manchester City's late implosion in a 3-1 loss at Tottenham on Sunday means United can take the title from its neighbour by beating Aston Villa at Old Trafford, with nearly a month still remaining in the campaign.
Luis Suarez could well find himself banned for much of that span, after biting an opponent in the latest incident involving the Liverpool striker.
The Uruguay striker scored a last-gasp equalizer for Liverpool in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea but found himself back in trouble after images showed him biting the arm of Branislav Ivanovic during a tussle in the second half.
In one of the many episodes in his controversial career, Suarez was suspended for seven matches in 2010 for the same offence, when he was playing for Ajax against PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league.
Suarez issued an apology hours after the match, but was harshly criticized by both club officials and pundits.
"I'm sad for what happened this afternoon, I apologize (to) Ivanovic and all football world for my inexcusable behaviour," Suarez said on Twitter. "I'm so sorry about it!!"
Suarez's late goal saw Chelsea drop two crucial points in the race for Champions League qualification, leaving the European champions a point behind Arsenal in fourth.
Spurs' rousing comeback against City left them a point further back. Chelsea and Tottenham still have a game in hand.
While the top-four fight looks to be going to the wire, the race for the title is almost over.
City had given up hope a month ago after a loss at Everton but by conceding three goals in seven minutes to slump to defeat at White Hart Lane, its fading chances dwindled even further.
"It was finished three or four weeks ago," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "They (United) are not a better team but they deserve to win this title because we lost a lot of points in games we probably didn't deserve to lose."
Gareth Bale led Spurs' fightback on his return to the team after two weeks out with an ankle injury, the Wales winger setting up Clint Dempsey for the 75th-minute equalizer and then sealing victory in the 82nd. Jermain Defoe equalized in between.
"I cannot believe we lost this game — we had it under control," added Mancini, who saw France playmaker Samir Nasri gave City a fifth-minute lead.
United is 13 points ahead of City with five games remaining.
Spurs' afternoon got even better after Suarez stooped to head in the equalizer at Anfield for his league-leading 23rd goal of the campaign but his all-action performance will be better remembered for the incident where he sunk his teeth into the right arm of Ivanovic at the start of the second half.
Suarez had just given away a penalty, converted by Eden Hazard, for a needless handball at a corner and was clearly frustrated.
"I didn't see it at the time but people have told me, which is surprising," Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech said. "Suarez always does little fouls and pushes. I saw Branislav's reaction and he was not happy at all."
Suarez is a magnet for controversy. He was vilified for a deliberate handball on the goal line in a World Cup quarterfinal in 2010 that prevented a goal and helped Uruguay qualify for the last four at the expense of Ghana. He was seen celebrating on the sideline when Ghana missed the spot kick.
And he was banned for eight games last season after being found guilty of repeatedly racially abusing Manchester United Patrice Evra during a game.
"I think it would be an injustice to Luis Suarez to talk about (the incident), he has been the best player in the league this season," Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said. "I think he is the third best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo."
Oscar put Chelsea ahead in the 26th minute before Suarez supplied a superb cross for substitute Sturridge to sidefoot home in the 52nd.Suggest a correction