Manchester United Pull Away At The Top As Liverpool Claim A Well Deserved Draw Against City
Barclays Premier League weekend once again had it all – brilliant goals, jaw dropping saves, moments of individual brilliance and flashes of sheer lunacy. The weekend saw Red Devils enjoy a late winner at the Cottage riding on Rooney’s brilliance and Senderos’ gaffe, while defending champions Man City could only muster a draw at home against Brendan Rodger’s ever-improving Liverpool side. The result left both clubs short of their season-long objective, with City 9 points behind United and Liverpool 9 points off the UCL places.
It was certainly a happy weekend down in North London, where AVB’s Spurs closed the gap on Chelsea to just a point while Arsenal moved on the tails of Everton. Chelsea were the biggest losers at the weekend as they slumped to another defeat under Rafa Benitez and now the Spaniard must surely be reeling under the stress of a trigger happy boss.
Everton failed to grab all three points against strugglers Villa even though the manner of their late comeback must serve as some consolation.
A relegation six pointer was played out over the weekend as QPR hosted Norwich. Rangers missed out a great opportunity to move closer to safety as Taraabt failed to convert from the spot to leave the Hoops adrift at the bottom. Norwich City would be surely pleased with a point but on the other hand, QPR must be ruing their luck. Biggest win of the weekend must surely belong to Reading as McDermott’s side has suddenly found the mantra to win games and with Sunderland losing their match, Premier League safety once again looks a possibility for the Royals.
Wayne Rooney joins the party and does something reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo
It’s fair to say RVP has stolen some of Wayne Rooney’s limelight as the Dutchman has carried the Manchester United attack this season. Nevertheless, Rooney remains an influential figure at Old Trafford and his coming back to form could be the difference between a good side and a great one. With RVP going off the boil in the last couple of games, it’s the Englishman who has come to fore and taken the goal scoring mantle upon him.
A game-winning brace in the midweek was followed by the game clinching goal at the weekend as the Red Devils snatched all three points at the Cottage. Not only did the goal move United 10 points clear off City but it also had an uncanny resemblance to a Cristiano Ronaldo winner at the same venue against the same opponent back in season 2006-07. United went on to win the league and that Ronaldo goal proved pivotal.
Liverpool’s persistence with Rodger’s philosophy should bear fruit
Liverpool only managed a point against champions City at the Etihad but their overall play deserved a lot more. Rodger’s outfit was well-drilled and had the measure of a much more fancied opponent all throughout the contest. Sturridge looked the part against his former club as Suarez’s danger was omnipresent from a deeper position. Steven Gerrard too has picked up his form of late while Henderson has been a revelation in the advanced midfield role. Lucas too would get stronger with more games under his belt and hence there are plenty of positives for the former Swansea boss.
Nevertheless, the form of Pepe Reina must be a real concern. The Spaniard has been fairly dodgy for a season and a half now, and even the return of Jones is not one to be confident about. Liverpool need a shot stopper in the summer to build on the good work and better times could be fast approaching Merseyside.
Fat lady might have already sung for QPR
The Rangers are definitely a much better side than the shambles under Mark Hughes and that isn’t hard to achieve. The defence is much improved and the acquisition of Samba will add further solidity. However scoring goals looks to be a real problem for the London outfit. Zamora is a bit and miss and Remy might need time to acclimatize. Taraabt remains mercurial and there is definitely an absence of a proven goal-poacher. With teams like Reading picking points regularly and Newcastle too getting themselves out of danger, even Harry Redknapp might not be able to perform a Houdini with QPR.
Mancini’s mind games look predictable and unremarkable
The Italian has a simple and very obvious strategy when it comes to mind games it seems: a) When City are ahead in the league, he claims United are the favorites to take pressure off his side, b) When Man United begin to pull away at the top, Mancini continuously claims the title race is in the balance.
Well, for City more pressing concerns surely exist than childish verbal battles. A five-point lead has stretched to 9 within seven days and with the impeding trip to Old Trafford still on the fixture list, all United have to do really is win their home games.
Battle for third/fourth places
A month ago Chelsea would be odds on favorites to nail the third spot and automatic qualification for UCL,
but things have changed dramatically. Spurs under AVB look strong and much more compact whereas the Blues seem to be in a free fall at the moment. Everton have a tough fixture list lined up and could struggle to keep up with the three London clubs and might even be overtaken by their neighbors Liverpool, eventually.
Arsenal are extremely difficult to predict but they have experience on their side and a history of always getting that coveted spot. Wilshere’s fitness could yet hold the key for the Gunners in their bid to toppling over their North London rivals.