Monday, March 09, 2009

Quintuple talk: Why rivals are under more pressure than United to win any trophy..

With a seven point advantage in the Premier League and looking good in all remaining competitions many are talking about Manchester United winning a unique quintuple, to go alongside the club's unprecedented treble of 1999. While the quintuple is possible the talk will continue. Normal logic would suggest that such a feat is improbable, but as far as United's remaining domestic challengers are concerned, the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are arguably under just as much pressure to win a trophy - any trophy.

If they can win at Old Trafford on Saturday, Liverpool will believe that they still have a chance of winning the title, but should they lose or draw, their target list will be revised to a top four finish and winning the Champions League. No matter what the outcome of that massive league clash with United, the pressure is on Benitez and his team.

Arsenal are battling for a top-four finish and I have been writing for some time that the Gunners will end the season in the leading group of clubs; like United they are also in the hunt for FA Cup and Champions League glory, but having gone so long sans any silverware Arsene Wenger is under more pressure than ever before to win something.

After what happened last season in the Champions League final and the turmoil of the current season, it goes without saying that Hiddink is also under pressure to win something for megabucks Chelsea.

As for United, it is not surprising that the media are describing the champions as "unstoppable" following another demolition job, as the Red Devils thumped Fulham 4-0 on Saturday to secure an FA Cup semi-final place where they will face Everton.

Going into the FA Cup quarter-final, it looked like a very difficult fixture for United, especially given that the champions face Inter Milan and Liverpool within the space of three days later in the same week, no surprise then that Ronaldo and Berbatov were rested for the trip to Craven Cottage.

Ferguson is of course blessed with a fine squad of players and it is quality strength in depth where United have a slight advantage over the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal. Chelsea can match United in terms of the size and quality of their squad, but internal squabbling and player cliques have potentially wrecked their season following the sacking of big Phil Scolari.

So what are the chances of United actually winning this quintuple? I will leave the numbers scenario to the bookies, but it's definitely worth a punt. If you haven't already done so, take advantage of a free bet on the improbable quintuple with a free bet, courtesy of Free Bet Updates

United breeze into FA Cup semi-final...
In truth, after the opening 20 minutes at Craven Cottage it was all a little too easy for Fergie's team; aside from an early Andy Johnson scare which came about because of a mix-up between Nemanja Vidic (once again immaculate) and Edwin van der Sar. After that near miss, a somewhat bemused Roy Hodgson looked on as United eased gently through the gears and the goal-scoring opportunities soon followed.

United had started the game uncharacteristically with some sloppy passing, but after that opening spell, Rooney missed a good chance before heading onto Tevez who scored with an unlikely header at the far post.

United's brilliant Argentine striker then underscored his worth when he scored one of the best goals of the season so far, when advancing at speed before surging to his right before launching a superb drive which gave Mark Schwarzer no chance.

Any hopes of a second-half revival by Hodgson’s team were soon dashed as Wayne Rooney lashed home another picture-book goal just after half-time. After that third killer goal, as a match this cup-tie was effectively over. However, the scoring wasn't over as Park crowned an excellent display with a well taken goal that will go some way to silencing his critics who say the South Korean lacks composure inside the opposition penalty area. It was particularly satisfying to see Park score after he'd been brutally hacked down several times by Pantsil, who should have been sent off by referee Mike Dean.

Final score: Fulham 0-4 United.

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