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Premier League: Manchester United Go One Point Clear, Have Manchester City Blown Their Title Chances?

By Periscope @periscopepost
Premier League: Manchester United go one point clear, have Manchester City blown their title chances?

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. Photo credit: Audrey Pilato

Manchester United has inched ahead of bitter rivals Manchester City in the race to be crowned Premier League champions. United’s two-nil win over West Bromwich Albion lifted them above City, who fell to a disappointing one-nil defeat at Swansea City. With ten games to go, United are one point ahead in the race for the title. The sports commentariat mostly fancy Sir Alex Ferguson’s red devils to now hold their narrow lead but no-one’s yet writing off the star-laden sky blues’ chances of clawing back top spot, the position they have occupied for most of the Premiership season.

It is widely considered that City have the tougher run-in of the two clubs (they must travel to Arsenal, Stoke and Newcastle before the end of the season as well as face Chelsea at home) but they do have home advantage in the potentially winner-takes-all showdown between the two Manchester clubs at the Etihad Stadium on 30 April.

Course favours Manchester United over City in two-horse title race. Writing at The Guardian, Paul Wilson said Ferguson’s team “have the knowledge, experience and easier fixtures to pip Manchester City.” Wilson said United “are not playing fantastically well … but they have vast experience in these situations, and if they fail to take something approaching maximum points from home games against  … Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Aston Villa and Everton it will be a greater surprise than going out of the Champions League to Basel.” Ferguson “must be quietly confident of dropping fewer points than City, especially if United exit the Europa League in Bilbao,” said Wilson. “Normally he is juggling his side to work around the Champions League knockout stages at this point in the season, or worrying about how to cope with Barcelona in the final. This time the run-in could be relatively serene. In short, the fixtures favour United, who also have the experience.”

Manchester United have won seven of their last eight league fixtures. Talismanic striker Wayne Rooney has scored 15 goals in 14 games since December.

United have resolve but City have wild card Tevez. “Manchester City boast the resources to win the Premier League but Manchester United possess the resolve,” was how Henry Winter of The Telegraph summarised the run-in, where “ambushes lurk everywhere.” “On the eve of the season I felt that United would secure a 20th title, and only an injury to Wayne Rooney would encourage me to jump ship just yet, but even the briefest of glances through both squad lists highlights how (City manager) Roberto Mancini can call on superior assets, certainly when it comes to directing firepower on an opposition goal. Sergio Agüero has been one of the players of the season, Mario Balotelli adorns the back pages as well as invades the front, and Edin Dzeko will still contribute the occasional goal. David Silva lacks his early-season sparkle but still weaves moments of game-defining magic.” “The ace in City’s pack could be a perceived knave. Carlos Tévez … ,“ adjudged Winter, who insisted that “the mischievous fates surely decree that Tévez warms up against United on April 30, rises from the bench, tears around with that phenomenal energy of his and scores the winner.”

On 23 October City thumped United 6-1 at Old Trafford in arguably the most sensational performance by any Premiership team this term.

Rooney: Form player in the form team. “After a six-point swing in the space of eight days, it is United with the advantage, clear at the division’s summit,” said Richard Jolly of ESPN Soccernet, who did, however, remind readers that “the March tables are rarely framed at Old Trafford.” Jolly identified Rooney’s contribution as key to the United charge: “The form team in the title race have the form player in the country, with the possible exception of Robin van Persie. Wayne Rooney’s second brace in four days took his total to 26 goals for the season … Unlike his annus mirabilis in 2009-10, Rooney has not proved as consistent over a whole campaign. Yet this is already the second-most productive season of his career, he has delivered against the elite opposition – 10 of his 20 league goals have come at the expense of Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool – and is producing when it matters most, long the measure of a United player.”

Who will win the 2011/2012 Premier League? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Mancini needs to ‘wise up’ fast. At, Matt Scott said City “risk losing everything in a season that promised it all” and urged manager Roberto Mancini to “act immediately” to “save his season.” Scott argued that the loss of “mountainous skipper” Vincent Kompany, initially through suspension and now through injury, has hurt City badly: “His absence leaves a huge gap that the likes of Stefan Savic and Kolo Toure look incapable of filling, making a quick recovery for Kompany and instant return to the team vital.” Scott identified Aguero as the other main man for City and urged Mancini to stop rotating his strikers: “With Edin Dzeko struggling for goals in the second half of the season and Mario Balotelli seemingly a milisecond away from a suspension or poor showing, key man Aguero must start every game from here on in.”

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