Friday, December 28, 2007

It's looking a happy New Year for Manchester United

Hypia out for Liverpool, as Wenger and Grant feel the strain.

Its certainly becoming a happy new year for Sir Alex Ferguson. Not only have Manchester United recovered from their slow start to the Premier League, to storm to the top of the table, but he will have been cheered by the news that their nearest rivals are starting to show the strain as we rapidly enter the business end of the season.

Arsenal not only faltered at Portsmouth, they didn't perform. Arsene Wengers criticism of Portsmouth was out of order. Portsmouth played the same formation and arguably created the better chances. Arsenal simply didn't create enough to win and Harry Redknapps point that they weren't there to let Arsenal open them up was spot on. It doesn't get any easier for Arsenal - next they go to Everton.

Chelsea also slipped up, this time to Aston Villa at home. It was an extraordinary game, with the Chav's down 2-0 in 15 minutes. The game see-sawed throughout with Carvalho, Ashley Cole and Zat Knight all dismissed. Aston Villa were well worth the point. Avram Grant now has to marshall his meagre resources to push on for the title - he is now without Terry, Drogba, Makelele, Florent Malouda, Cudicini and now Lampard (all injured), with Cole, Carvalho and Essien all now suspended. Its' Newcastle at Stamford Bridge next for Chelsea.

Liverpool also have major injury problems. Not only are Daniel Agger and Jermaine Pennant still missing, and Xabi Alonso slowly getting back to fitness, but Sami Hypia has an ankle injury that makes him doubtful for the tough trip to Manchester City. This potentially leaves Liverpool with only one senior centre-half (Jamie Carragher). On the performance at Derby it appears the major thing stopping Liverpool from challenging for the title is Rafa Benitez himself. He put out one of his unbalanced, disjointed selections, and but for the intervention of Steven Gerrard, Liverpool would be dead and buried in the title race. I predict they will be shortly.

All in all I really can't see past Manchester United for the title. Each of their rivals has some fault that you think will lead to dropped points, but Manchester United are now looking and playing like a side that could go a long, long time unbeaten.


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