Tipsy at the Top

In college we had names for every day of the week as an excuse to drink; Margarita Mondays, Tequilla Tuesdays, Wild Wednesdays, etc. Turns out that in terms of the Premier League title, yesterday was in fact wild Wednesday. With Manchester United stumbling at Wigan and Manchester City finding itself against West Brom, the title race is suddenly heating up again. 

Manchester United kicked off at 11:45 PDT as the champions elect. They had a 8 point lead with 6 games remaining. They had not lost a game in January. But fate has a cruel knack of keeping things interesting when they look like it is about to get boring. Thus the game that followed. 

In the last several games, United have been the benefit of several questionable calls all having some effect on the game. As the saying goes, “what goes around comes around”. At the start though, it looked like luck was again going to be with United as Wigan had a goal called back after it was ruled that Gary Caldwell “blocked” De Gea’s path to stop Victor Moses’  header. There was no argument from and United players and De Gea hadn’t actually moved. The center referee had allowed the goal only for his assistant from 40 yards away to call him over before disallowing the goal. One couldn’t help but think that this was going to be another night of luck for United. 

In the 52nd minute however, things turned for Wigan. The ball went over the touch line and was ruled a corner kick much to Phil Jones’ chagrin. Replays suggest otherwise but as any person who plays sports knows, the referee has the last word. Maloney exchanged a quick pass around Rooney and curled an excellent ball in. 1-0 Wigan. 

Ferguson then brought on Welbeck and Cleverley in an effort to produce more goals. They had few chances and then came the second controversial decision against them. Jones put in a low cross which hit Maynor Figueroa in the arm but both the referee and linesman waived off penalty claims. In the end United was not able to produce anything and gave up points to Wigan for the first time in 3 years. The consolation is that their next two games are against Aston Villa and Everton who both have terrible records at Old Trafford. 

City also kicked off at 11:45 PDT against West Brom. Knowing that United’s game was against lowly Wigan, they knew that to have any chance at the title they must win out. With Balotelli suspended, Carlos Tevez made his first start for the club since September partnering with Aguero up top. With the defeat to Arsenal still hanging over the team, the atmosphere was low.

Aguero changed that after 6 minutes though with a solo strike from the top of the box. City continued to control possession through the first half but could not convert any more chances until the second half.

Aguero was the scorer again as Nasri slipped in a ball behind the defense and Aguero put in past Ben Foster. Tevez got on the scoresheet as well , albeit with a deflection. Silva’s run to the goal line ended with a cut back to the penalty spot. Tevez put it on target. It glanced off Billy Jones’ head who was just in front of Ben Foster. Replays showed that Foster might have had a hand on it had Jones not been there. David Silva finished off the scoring with a chip of the keeper after being put through. 

With United losing and City winning, United now hold a 5 point advantage with 5 games remaining; one of those games being the derby at the Ethiad. Should United slip up in any of the other 4 games, the clash with City could very well be the title decider. 

Man City v Chelsea Preveiw

Preview:

This afternoon will showcase a very interesting match between two top English soccer teams. Manchester City look to catch up after Manchester United extended their lead atop the table. Meanwhile, Chelsea is looking to creep back into the top 4 and a coveted Champions League spot.

Manchester City have had their title challenge credentials brought into question as of late after losing away to Swansea and then crashing out of Europa League last week. The Swansea loss coupled with United win allowed United to leapfrog City to the top of the table for the first time since October. Now with United winning 5-0 this past weekend (cutting the goal differential to 3), United hold a 4 point lead atop the table. City will surely be looking to get the swagger back that had them atop the table since October. A win over Chelsea would certainly help while a slip up will not only dent their moral, but title hopes as well.

The question for City will be what effect (if any) will Tevez have on the run in for the title? We all know his work rate and ability. But I personally find it hard to believe that when one goes AWOL for 3 months then deciding to come back at their own time, it is hard to just truly brush that aside. And if so, what type of example does that set for the rest of the team? If it were my team, Tevez would be gone. There would be no room on my roser for someone who thinks they are special (unless its Messi of course)

Chelsea are also playing catch up, but this is on the other side of the top 4. Arsenal sit in 4th, 3 points above Chelsea. While Chelsea have been erratic this season, they are 3-0 since sacking manager Andre Villa-Boas including the rousing comeback against Napoli in the Champions League. A concern for them is how their defense will hold up against City’s attack without skipper John Terry. He is out with a knee problem picked up in the game against Napoli leaving David Luis and Ivanovic in the back. A curious question to me though is what to do with “El Nino”.

Torres broke his nearly 26 hour goal drought over the weekend with not 1 but 2 goals in Chelsea’s FA tie. Is it a coincidence that this came merely 3 games in with a new manager? The remains to be seen. But id DiMatteo has figured out the key to Torres’ goal scoring box. then it will be hard to keep him on the bench.

Prediction:

While City have the flair and attacking power, their confidence is reeling at a time when Chelsea are on a high. When all is said and done, I see Chelsea grinding out a 1-1 draw. That being said, I would love nothing more than to see City lose as I am a huge United fan( Glory glory Man uniteddd….).