Manchester United have been the virtual champions of England since February, but they finally got the chance to make it official on Monday night. Tottenham Hotspur's comeback win over Manchester City on the weekend gave the Red Devils a chance to lock up the Premier League title against Aston Villa, and they did just that, comfortably defeating the relegation-threatened Villains 3-0 to lift the trophy at Old Trafford.
Robin van Persie fired United in front after just 85 seconds, then went on to score twice more to notch a hat trick after just 33 minutes of play. There was a bit of controversy in each of the three goals, all of which could have easily been called back for offside. It was harsh on Villa, who need every point they can to hold off Wigan for Premier League survival. This result also means that Queens Park Rangers and Reading, who would have been officially relegated with a Villa win, live to fight another day.
United took a double-digit lead in the league for the first time on February 10, when they recorded the fourth of eight consecutive league wins in a 2-0 victory over Wigan. The day prior, City dropped points for the third straight game, losing 3-1 away to Southampton. With the lead at 12 points in mid-February, United were never under much pressure in the league.
The Red Devils' lead was 15 points when they met Manchester City on April 8. An impressive win for the Citizens at Old Trafford only delayed the inevitable for a couple of weeks and didn't lead to them mounting any kind of serious challenge for the league title.
There are four league games remaining in United's season, giving them a chance to get some playing time against high-quality opposition for their young stars and reserve players. Expect to see quite a bit of players like Nick Powell, Alexander Buttner, Nani and Anderson. Manchester United goes away to Arsenal next week before playing Chelsea and Swansea City at home. They finish the year away to West Bromwich Albion.