Sunday, November 23, 2008

United and Arsenal's title race all but run....

With the very real danger of sounding like an old washer woman (again), if United's ambitions of retaining the title aren't all but over following the nil-nil draw away at Aston Villa on Saturday, then they could well be next weekend after the Manchester derby.

City fans love to beat and United, for some it is their very reason for living on the Red planet, much has been said about the club's new found wealth, but not entirely unexpectedly, it has so far been a bit of a bumpy ride for new manager Mark Hughes and his Brazilian stars & co.

Prior to United's clash with Villa on Saturday, I opted to watch City take on Arsenal, purely to gauge the form of the opposition. The first half at the City of Manchester stadium was a fairly even affair, but once again Stephen Ireland scored to give the Blues a crucial lead on the stroke of half-time.

For their part, Arsenal, sans William Gallas, were fairly dire in the second period after Robinho scored a wonderful goal.

I'll let you into a secret now though, I was watching the match on my PC via one of these streaming sites and after the Brazilian scored City's second goal, it appeared that someone (an Arsenal fan?) turned the channel over ( I don't know how this streaming works, but I've seen this happen a few times this week). I had to make do with listening to Radio 5 commentary for the remainder of the game.

There's a certain amount of irony in the fact that Arsenal's last two league games have been against Aston Villa and Manchester City, because that will be the case for United too after next weekend. If, god forbid, City win the derby I fear it will bring to an end our hopes of winning the title. I'm certain that Arsenal's title race has been all but run, the Gunners’ have too many problems at the back coupled with an unhappy dressing-room (according to reports).

As for our beloved United, regular readers of this blog will recall prior to the Villa game that I'd predicted that both Rooney and Ferdinand would make Lazarus like returns to fitness in time to face Villa (so I'm not always wrong).

I had also warned against the dangers complacency, but in truth that wasn't really an issue on this occasion - the plain fact is United weren't good enough to beat a hard-working Villa team, and I cannot help but feel that just about any other United side over the last 10 or so years would have come away with all three points yesterday.

United may well feel that they should have scored in the first half, but truth be told, overall the Reds' didn’t create enough clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities. Wayne Rooney missed a good chance, but there was nowhere near enough worrying moments for Brad Friedel in the Villa goal.

The champions’ have a few injury concerns going into a busy week, first up we have the trip to Villarreal, both clubs are all but through to the next phase of the Champions League and so it's likely that Fergie will shuffle the pack.

United fans can expect to see wholesale changes to the team that faced Villa, with the likes of Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Manucho, Rafael da Silva and Rodrigo Possebon all playing some part in the game in Spain.

Quite what team will face Man City next Sunday is anyone's guess at this stage, barring injury, it is safe to assume that Tevez and Rooney will be paired together up front. Do not be surprised if it's the same team that took on Aston Villa on Saturday.

IF United are going to keep their faltering title hopes alive, then they have to win their next three league games against Manchester City, Blackburn and Sunderland.

Sadly, I do not see this happening, Ronaldo is blowing hot and cold and there's too many question marks about the complexion of the forward line and midfield. United are disjointed right now, there's no consistency in selection or performance.


  1. Completely prescient analysis.

    Any United team in the last ten years could have won the game against Villa yesterday. The defence and forwards weren't connected at all.

    The attacking didn't have the same composure and flair of the last season, and most of the time it was meaningless passing out wide or desperate lobs from the back. It was a disjointed performance that didn't even merit a point by United's standards.

    These are extremely concerning times for United, and though all I ask for is entertaining football, it is something United are unable to manage at the moment.

    Rooney missed a relatively straightforward chance due to a piece of genius by Carrick.

    I don't think the fluid 'every attacker's everywhere' system works without Quieroz, because no one in the midfield really knew where the forwards were going, Rooney dropped left a couple of times, only Park got into the box once to fluff his chance.

    As in the past games, United had their chances, they missed, they dropped points, a running theme in this United season.

  2. BELIEVE !!

    Nothing is over until it is mathematically impossible for United to win it !!

    I hate hearing fans talk like this.

    By the time Xmas arrives we will have played all the top ten teams away from they have to come to Old Trafford.

    Of all the teams challenging for the title we have the easiest second half of the season by far.

    So no more moaning or I'll kick ya butt ;-)

  3. Carly, while I admire your optimism, we still have to go to City this weekend and Tottenham away soon.

    Based on current form, we will be lucky to come away with a draw from both games and if that happens, it will be over and long before the end of December.


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