If there is one thing we can learn from this seasons Premier League campaign, it’s that the best league never fails to excite. Manchester United held a five point lead at the top of the table heading into their Sunday afternoon clash with Everton at Old Trafford. What was to unfold was somewhat reminiscent of Newcastle United’s remarkable comeback against Arsenal just a little over a year ago.
After suffering an early scare in the form of Nikica Jelavic’s opener just after the half hour mark – United had seemingly put the tie to bed after 60 minutes with Rooney, Welbeck and Nani putting Alex Ferguson’s men firmly in the lead.
Even if Marouane Fellani had put the supporters at Old Trafford on nerve with twenty minutes remaining, they were relieved to see Rooney grab his second goal of the game, and add a fourth for Manchester United. The game was as good as over, wasn’t it?
Not if Everton’s January signing Nikica Jelavic had anything to say about it. With seven minutes left, he matched Wayne Rooney’s efforts with a second goal of his own. The game, was very much on.
Indeed the comeback was complete when on-loan midfielder Steven Pienarr latched onto the end of a ball into the box and swept home a dramatic equaliser. The final whistle sounded; the crowd were shocked; the title race was thrown open, again.
With Manchester City heading to Wolves to hopefully close the gap on the leaders to just three points, Mancini’s men really couldn’t have been handed any more motivation. Aguero & Nasri settled the match, sending Wolves plundering into the nPower Championship and very much clawing back City’s chances of a Premier League title – a title that looked next to impossible only a fortnight ago.
Now, the title race has the attention of every neutral Premier League fan. The two sides will conveniently lock horns in the blue side of Manchester on a Monday night, a Monday night that will go a very long way in determining this years Premier League champions.
With a lot of emphasis on this game, some City fans may be forgetting something important. City, will have to travel to my beloved Newcastle United and hope to secure three points in a game that will be much harder than it looks on paper.
Newcastle are battling for the Champions League against Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea and if their recent form against Manchester clubs at home is anything to go by – Mancini’s men will be in for a very difficult night on Tyneside.
For me, this is where the title will hang in the balance. City have the tougher run in, although you can never predict what this league will throw at us. United will travel to Sunderland, and face Swansea at home – two ties that should really yield six points. City, with NUFC away and QPR at home will face more than a challenge to secure two wins.
It’s quite interesting that both Manchester clubs must travel to the North-East in hope of three points, something it’s worth noting neither of them have managed this season. City lost in injury time to Sunderland, while United were well and truly battered by Demba Ba and Newcastle United at the beginning of the New Year.
At the end of the day, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have the experience, the know-how, and the quality (just about) to win their 20th Premier League title. Mancini has the squad quality in abundance , but does he have the ability to motivate the players to nine points? I don’t think so, but only time will tell.
Either way, we’re in for a fascinating finale to the Premier League; the Champions League spot places et al!
What you think? Which side of Manchester will bring hold the Premier League title come may? Tell us in the comments area!