Only a most unlikely turnaround can prevent Manchester City from beating Manchester United to the English Premier League title.

''They probably have two hands on the trophy,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said.

City's 2-0 win at Champions League hopeful Newcastle means the league leader effectively needs only to beat relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers in Sunday's finale to win its first championship since 1968.

City has won 17 of 18 home games and QPR has won just three of 18 road games, so it's obvious why bookmakers make the Blues a 1-9 favorite to hoist the trophy.

If City wins, United will need to at least match its 17-year-old Premier League record 9-0 victory against Ipswich to overturn City's superior goal difference.

Neither scenario is likely, even with QPR needing a point to be sure of avoiding relegation.

Ferguson said a collapse by City would rank alongside that of one of the most infamous losers in British sporting history.

Devon Loch was 40 yards from the winning post in horse racing's 1956 British Grand National when he collapsed, seemingly without reason.

''There could be a Devon Loch. You never know,'' Ferguson said. ''Stranger things have happened in this game of football. They're red-hot favorites, but we've won the title on three occasions on the last day and we don't mind doing it again.''

United's opponent on Sunday, Sunderland, has only lost four times at home this season, further complicating matters for the record 19-time champions.

Ferguson has been left hoping that one of his former players can do him a favor.

Mark Hughes was sold by United in 1986 but Ferguson re-signed him two years later and was repaid with many goals, two of them helping to win the Cup Winners' Cup title against Barcelona in 1991.

Hughes was fired as manager of Manchester City in December 2009 and replaced by Roberto Mancini despite losing just two matches that season, so Ferguson expects the man nicknamed ''Sparky'' as a player to be especially motivated.

''QPR need a point and they're fighting for survival,'' Ferguson said. ''The whole future of the club could be resting on the game, and I only wish Sparky was playing. But Mark knows his job all right. He was sacked by City in a very unethical way, and he'll remember that.''

Mancini has spent the last few weeks playing down City's chances, apparently for fear of putting his club under pressure. He finally conceded that his team is favorite for the title after Sunday's win over Newcastle.

''If we beat QPR, we will be the champions,'' he said. ''But at this moment, we can't think about this. We need to prepare very well for the next game, only this. I am excited because we are on the top, but it's not enough. One week more and if we play like we did today, we have a lot of chance to win.''