LONDON – With the dust settled on a frantic midweek Manchester derby that handed the title initiative to City with just 180 minutes left of a fascinating Premier League season, the mind games remain in full swing between Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini.

A 1-0 win at home to their neighbours on last Monday put the destiny of the silverware in City’s hands as they seek to end a 44-year wait to be crowned champions of England. City and United are level on 83 points with Roberto Mancini’s side having a superior goal difference of eight going into games at high-flying Newcastle United (1230) on Sunday and relegation-threatened Queen Park Rangers a week later. United welcome Swansea City to Old Trafford on Sunday (1500) before completing their campaign at Sunderland.

Mancini had barely sat down at his post-match news conference after Vincent Kompany’s goal had settled a tense, attritional match, when he declared United, seeking a fifth Premier League title in six seasons, were still favourites because they had “easier” games left.

Ferguson, a past master in psychological warfare to unsettle his rivals when the pressure is ratcheted up, said City were in the driving seat but defiantly stated that “it was not over”. “They only need to win two games of football. It’s not over. As long as there are games of football to play, it’s not over of course,” he said.

Manchester City’s visit to in-form Newcastle United on Sunday will be more difficult than last Monday’s match against title rivals Manchester United, according to manager Mancini.

The Italian said fifth-placed Newcastle would approach the game against Premier League leaders City in an extremely confident mood after their 2-0 victory at Champions League finalists Chelsea on Wednesday. “Newcastle played a fantastic game at Chelsea and I think this game will be more difficult for us,” Mancini told reporters on Friday. “The Manchester United game was at home and we played very well to win 1-0 but Newcastle is away and I think it will be harder.”

Mancini said City would keep a particularly close eye on red-hot Senegal striker Papiss Cisse on Sunday. “Cisse is incredible,” said the Italian. “He scored two fantastic goals against Chelsea. He has 13 goals in 12 league games for Newcastle and he’s a good player. But not just him, their whole team is playing very well. They play to win in every game, they have a good mentality and for this reason I think it will be a good game on Sunday. Our players know they have everything in their own hands,” he said.

In an eerie similarity to 1968, City won that year’s first division title on the final day of the season at St James’ Park, beating Newcastle 4-3 and denying Matt Busby’s United, who lost 2-1 at home to Sunderland.

Away from the title battle, the final two rounds of fixtures will also determine who can plan for Champions League football and which two sides join Wolverhampton Wanderers through the relegation trap door.

Newcastle’s 2-0 win at Chelsea on Wednesday courtesy of a stunning double from Papiss Cisse and Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-1 victory at Bolton Wanderers left them level on 65 points, one point behind third-placed Arsenal.

Tottenham, who are above Newcastle on goal difference, look slight favourites to finish in the top four as they face Aston Villa on Sunday before finishing the season at home to Fulham. After hosting City, Newcastle end at Everton. Arsenal, desperate to hold on to third spot to guarantee yet another Champions League qualification, are at home to mid-table Norwich City on Saturday.

An added complication this season is that whoever finishes fourth could still be deprived a place in the Champions League final qualifying round should Chelsea, who are four points behind Newcastle and Tottenham in sixth, beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. That would ensure the Blues a place in the competition as holders and send the fourth-placed finishes (presuming it is Tottenham or Newcastle) into the Europa League instead.

At the other end of the table Blackburn Rovers, Bolton, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic and Villa are all scrapping for survival. Queens Park Rangers, who are above the relegation zone on goal difference, face Stoke City on Sunday (1300) when Bolton, who are level with them on 34 points, host new England boss Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion. Blackburn Rovers (31 points) are favourites to join Wolves in the Championship and will have to beat Wigan, who are level on 37 points with Villa, on Monday (1900) to give themselves a realistic chance of staying up