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Barclays Premier League: Has Manchester United Blown Their Chance of Winning a Twentieth Title?

By Periscope @periscopepost
Steven Pienaar, goalscorer for Everton vs Manchester United

Everton forward Steven Pienaar scored the late goal which drew Everton level with Manchester United on 22 April. Photo credit: nicksarebi

The Premier League title race is very much back on after Manchester United twice gave up a two-goal lead at home in their shock 4-4 home draw with Everton. Manchester City immediately capitalized on United’s uncharacteristic run-in slip-up – they beat Wolves 2-0 to cut United’s lead to just three points. This weekend’s unexpected two-point swing means the Manchester derby a week today could very well decide the title.

“We’ve given [Manchester City] the initiative, there’s no doubt about that,” Sir Alex told Sky Sports on Sunday. “It makes the game at the Etihad a real important game. It’s the decider really.” 

Biggest Manchester derby in a lifetime. Mark Payne, ESPN Soccernet’s Manchester United correspondent, insisted that, “certainly all is not lost, but the momentum has shifted in the last ten days and it will take all of our experience to hold on from here.” Payne described next week’s Manchester derby as “the biggest of my lifetime, knowing that the destiny of this season’s title will rest on the outcome of that match.”

Who’ll win the derby and the league? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

City has the momentum. Greg Stobart, northern correspondent for Goal.Com, argued that “nobody expected United would let their rivals back in the hunt so easily.” Stobart suggested it is now very much advantage City: “Now all of a sudden City have the momentum, having come through their bad patch and won three games in a row. The partnership between Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero is clicking, providing the catalyst for fresher, more energetic performances. The same could not be said for a United, whose showing against Everton summed up their performances for much of the campaign. Brilliant but careless … .”

In the four games Carlos Tevez and Sergio Agüero have started together this season, they have scored 12 goals.

United can still win trophy but this they do have clear weaknesses. James Lawton of The Independent reminded that “these things happen at the taut end of the season,” but insisted that, “what was staggering was their failure to close down a match which was won – and a season that was all but sealed.” Lawton cautioned that it would be “a gratuitous insult to the ability of manager Sir Alex Ferguson to conjure his team’s best combative instincts in less than promising circumstances to imagine that Everton’s stupendous effort … has suddenly put out of reach a 13th Premier League.” Regardless of who wins the title, Lawton argued that “United are in need of serious stiffening – and that it is a job which will require serious money.”

When City lost to Arsenal on 8 April, they were eight points behind their great rivals with six games to play.

Mancini’s mind games. Richard Williams of The Guardian’s Sport blog suggested that City manager Roberto Mancini’s mind games have been crucial to his team’s revival and United’s loss of focus: “The City manager’s repeated insistence that their title challenge was ‘finished’, delivered with an expression of total resignation, may or may not have represented his real feelings. He is certainly worldly wise enough to have been sending out a completely different message inside the dressing room. If the seeming concession of the championship was intended for the ears of Manchester United’s players and supporters, it seems to have done the trick … it is hard to believe that a fully focused United would have fallen to that astonishing defeat at Wigan 12 days ago or given up a 4-2 lead at Old Trafford against an Everton with only pride to play for.”

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