After United were beaten emphatically by Newcastle on the 4th of January, I feared that come this day, with the fixtures both United and City had in front of them, City would now be running away with the title. If you’d have then offered me the possibility of United being eight points behind City today, I would have felt United would have a good chance of winning the title. To be only two points behind City now, having played Liverpool at home plus Arsenal, Chelsea, Norwich and Tottenham away is miraculous. Looking at the forthcoming fixtures until United next play City in late April, City have some pretty awkward games coming up while United have games which any title chasing side should win. Both teams will drop points before that game on April 30th, but I believe that City will drop more points than United.
A few weeks ago, Tottenham were going brilliantly. An unlucky last minute defeat at City with a goal scored by a player who shouldn’t have been on the pitch, started a sequence of results which culminated in Tottenham blowing a 2-0 lead at Arsenal last week to end up losing 5-2. As unlucky as Tottenham were to lose to Man City, they were at least, equally unlucky to lose todays match. Today was a classic smash and grab by United, Rooney snook in the six yard box to head United in the lead in first half injury time from an Ashley Young corner. It was only the third goal United have scored this season from a corner, two of them have come from Wayne Rooney and the other one was an own goal from Wes Brown when United played Sunderland in November. On 60 minutes, Phil Jones caught Luka Modric asleep from a throw in, to play Nani in a dangerous position in the Tottenham eighteen yard box. Nani’s cross caused all kinds of confusion before Ashley Young put the ball in the only possible place he could put it in the net. It was a great goal but it was to be surpassed nine minutes later when he beat the excellent Brad Friedel from 20 yards to make it 3-0.
Todays win was a clinical robbery done with all the efficiency of the kind that Bob Paisley’s Liverpool side used to grind out. To be beating a side as good as Tottenham 3-1, having been second best for most of the match must have galling for Tottenham themselves and frightening for any team United are contending the title with. The perenially erratic Emmanuel Adebayor was having one of those days when he’s a real menace to the opposition and reminding us all, what a player he can be and why the likes of City and Arsenal splashed so much money out on him in the first place. As well as Tottenham played, they never laid any substained pressure on Uniteds goal but Adebayor always looked dangerous. On seven minutes he shot just over a very relieved David de Gea’s crossbar. Thirty minutes later, he had the ball in the back of Uniteds net but the goal was disallowed for a handball, spotted by a very vigilant Martin Atkinson, refereeing his first United game since the debacle at Stamford Bridge exactly a year ago. On first look, I didn’t see anything wrong with the goal but the action replay showed it to be a good call. He couldn’t get his hand out of the way of the ball so it couldn’t have been deliberate. However, if the ball hadn’t have hit his hand there’s no way he would have been able to score in the manner that he did. United were lucky though, I’ve seen goals like that given. Four minutes from time, Jermaine Defoe capitalised on a very sloppy ball played by Ryan Giggs in the midfield to give Tottenham some deserved face from the game.
It’s not been a bad ol’ weekend, it’s always a pleasure to hear that Leeds United have lost and the League Cup champions (© Glen Johnson) lost yesterday at home to Arsenal, in a game they should have won, courtesy of a Robin Van Persie goal in injury time. Chelsea’s players finally managed to complete their sabotage of their now sacked manager, Andre Villas Boas, by losing to West Bromwich Albion for the first time since 1979. The only fly in the ointment was City winning, but it would’ve have been a real surprise if any other result would’ve come of their game against Bolton Wanderers. After the City match, Roberto Mancini appeared to fire the first salvo in what is now known as the season run-in mind games. This happened on Saturday afternoon when he dismissed his interviewers assertion that City were back to five points clear. Mancini cut him short, claiming that it was two points due to the certainty of United, winning at White Hart Lane the following day. Roberto Mancini, a likeable and seemingly fair minded bloke, needs to do better than that to make Sir Alex Ferguson feel the pressure.