Diame stunner earns West Ham 2-2 draw
Although second-placed Manchester City won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic in an FA Cup Final rehearsal to close the gap on United to 13 points, United only need six points from their last five games to seal top spot.
United have 81 points from 33 games and City 68 from 32, but if City lose to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and United beat Villa at Old Trafford on Monday, United will reclaim the crown.
Chelsea, playing their seventh match in 19 days, showed no sign of fatigue as they won 3-0 at Fulham in a one-sided West London derby highlighted by a stunning 30-metre strike from David Luiz for the visitors' first goal.
John Terry scored the other two as Chelsea, for whom Frank Lampard made his 600th appearance, moved into third place on 61 points from 32 games, ahead of Arsenal on 60 from 33, Tottenham 58 from 32 and Everton 56 from 33.
"We were magnificent in our determination and courage to play and I am pleased with the result," Ferguson told Sky Sports.
"We have five games left, three at home and two away and the players have shown tonight how much they want to win the title."
However, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce was unhappy with United's second equaliser from Robin Van Persie, claiming the linesman missed an obvious offside call.
"We could have had a famous victory over United today, but when the assistant referee takes it away from you, it leaves me feeling very angry," he said.
"It was blatantly offside as we can all see. We would have been satisfied with a draw before the start but when you see a victory against one of the best teams in Europe taken away from you it is hard to take.
"He can see Van Persie is two yards offside, it hits the post comes to Van Persie and he should put his flag up and he doesn't."
West Ham went ahead with a 16th-minute close-range header from Ricardo Vaz Te after a superb breakaway before Antonio Valencia equalised with his first goal of the season 15 minutes later following clever approach work by Shinji Kagawa.
Mohamed Diame put West Ham back in front with a brilliant low shot after 56 minutes but United levelled again when Kagawa's shot hit both posts and Van Persie, from what looked an offside position, fired home the rebound in the 77th minute.
The FA Cup Final preview City and Wigan ended in a win for champions City with Carlos Tevez scoring the only goal seven minutes from time with a smart shot from the edge of the box after making room for himself.
The result left Wigan, who meet City in the Cup final at Wembley Stadium on May 11, in the bottom three, three points from safety.
Wigan have 31 points from 32 games and a three behind Sunderland, Stoke City and Aston Villa who all have 34 from 33 games.