Premier League review: Man United and Man City stumble into 2012
Alex Sharp looks back at another action-packed instalment of Premier League football, as both City and United slipped up
We’re at the halfway mark of this turbulent and fascinating Premier League campaign and the top sides have slumbered into 2012.
Steve Kean and his depleted Blackburn side managed to ruin Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday, Manchester City have stalled at the top and Chelsea self-combusted.
2011 saw Manchester United record the highest total of points, 88, and the highest total of goals scored, also 88.
However, it is clear that United are lacking the depth of yesteryear. Having Michael Carrick at centre-half demonstrates the injury problems at Old Trafford. The bench was full of juniors and only the hapless Anderson represented any sort of experience.
United are crying out for some creativity in the middle of the park and with Wayne Rooney shunned to the stands against Rovers, they were predictable.
Even Nani, would had the most assists in 2011 with 13, lacked the usual pace, precision and penetration.
Sir Alex will certainly dabble in the January sales and should go in for Wesley Sneijder, who is in a similar mould to the irreplaceable Paul Scholes.
Across Manchester to City, who sit top of the pile at the beginning of 2012 but have drawn with West Brom and succumbed to a last-gasp Sunderland winner.
Are the wheels coming off the City bandwagon? No. Neither top side has managed to capitalise on their rival’s hiccups and City can head into the second half of the season full of confidence.
The reliable Joe Hart totted up the most clean sheets in 2011 with 16, and City had the tightest defence, only conceding 32 times. This shows that City have the solid foundations for a title bid and with a vast squad to call upon, Roberto Mancini has the easier January window ahead.
Every championship-winning side has a blip and if Mancini can refocus his squad of egos and respond immediately with a victory next outing, all will be forgotten.
In a sensational 2011, Robin van Persie holds the highest individual total with 35 goals. And he once again directed the Gunners to victory against QPR.
The loan signing of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry alongside Van Persie could be a perfect addition to a squad set to lose Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Henry can replace Gervinho on the left of Wenger’s pacey front three. He has the distribution and composure Arsenal crave in the final third.
On the other hand, he hasn’t been pushed in the MLS and could struggle to recreate the magic of his first Gunners stint.
Chelsea, surprisingly, were the biggest spenders of 2011. Fernando Torres was responsible for a large chunk of that cash – and Andre Villas-Boas, if he is still in the hot-seat, will be desperate to spend big in January. Chelsea need a host of changes in an ageing squad, having slipped out of the top four.
Villas Boas won’t have much time but has a lot of deadwood to replace. The rumoured addition of Gary Cahill seems to be a bargain but the current Bolton captain has been well below-par this campaign.
The rumoured £80m-odd fee for Hulk from Porto certainly isn’t the answer: surely Roman Abramovich will have learnt from the £50m flop sitting on the bench?