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Title set for Manchester stay

United and City prepare for battle

By | 20th November 2011

Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea will certain be a memorable result for Kenny Dalglish and his team, with Glen Johnson’s wonderful winner the stuff of legend.

But the contest at Stamford Bridge, while admittedly very exicting, serves to prove one crucial point; the Premier League title will remain in Manchester. Where exactly it ends remains the unanswered question.

After 12 matches, City have compiled 34 points, winning all but one match and setting a rapid pace. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are 5 points back, in 2nd spot, and have taken the full three points on offer in 9 of their 12 matches.

The fact that they are 2nd with this commendable record shows how good Roberto Mancini and co. have been- they have flawlessly juggled their responsibilities in the league, Europe, and even the League Cup.

Although the Citizens have experienced early success, United can never be counted out because of their ability to come through with results when they matter most.

The Red Devils’ visit to Swansea could have been tricky, and although it wasn’t the prettiest performance, their 1-0 win gives credence to their oft-heard chant ‘that’s why we’re champions.’

Ferguson’s men have proven their resilience again and again, and their crowded trophy cabinet is evidence enough that United can’t be counted out. Hence, there is no denying that the outcome of the second and final Manchester derby will be critical.

Alan Pardew’s Newcastle side have been impressive this year, and even after their loss to City this weekend, they lie 3rd. Their achievements appear to be even more impressive when you consider that they are 3 points ahead of the expensively-assembled Blues.

Andre Villas-Boas has tinkered with his team a lot this year, but lately it seems that he hasn’t been able to get the best out of his very talented squad.

The John Terry race row couldn’t have helped, and though Fernando Torres has looked better, his failure to start against his former club will surely be another dent for his morale.

The Spaniard makes up part of what, on paper, is one of the elite strike forces in England, alongside Didier Drogba, Daniel Sturridge, and Nicolas Anelka.

But chemistry seems to be the main problem, perhaps due to the manager’s frequent rejigging of the team. Even Frank Lampard, long a stalwart in the starting XI, struggled to start consistently in the opening weeks of the campaign.

Villas-Boas has all the signs of a promising young manager, but Chelsea’s recent struggles have already brought about talk of him losing his position amidst rumors of recently unemployed Guus Hiddink coming back to the club.

Chelsea have had struggles of their own, but the fact remains that outside the current top two, they probably have the best chance of topping the table.

Arsenal look very much rejuvenated in the past few weeks, with Robin Van Persie’s amazing form in front of net the main reason that the Gunners want to keep him with the club, and avoid the sagas that engulfed Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

Since losing to Spurs on 2 October, Arsenal have reeled off 6 straight wins in the league to move up 7th, on 22 points. However, it cannot be overlooked that Arsene Wenger’s side already have 4 losses.

Tottenham again look strong, and ahead of their match against Aston Villa tomorrow at White Hart Lane, they too have 22 points, but with only 10 matches played – two less than most others.

Emmanuel Adebayor’s addition, on loan from Manchester City, has proved to be a great move by Harry Redknapp. Furthermore, without the added pressure of the Champions League, the Spurs have been able to solely focus on getting back into the top four.

Redknapp has also made his disdain for the Europa League clear, often using the competition to offer playing time to most utility squad players.

Scott Parker has been immense in midfield, and the Champions League may again be a reality, but the title is still improbable at best.

Liverpool’s summer spending spree was based around the goal of again finishing in the top four. But, like Spurs, actually winning the league is just a step too far.

Luis Suarez has been fantastic, and the additions of Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique have clearly strengthened the team. But in reality, the Reds will still have to spend a lot more money if they want to compete for the top spot.

In a nutshell, the red and blue halves of Manchester are set for a two-horse title race and while a handful of competitors still have plenty of time to fight back, the Premier League trophy looks likely to stay in the Rainy City.



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