In north London and Manchester, fans of Tottenham and City may be thinking that their teams are finally surpassing their bitter rivals. City remain top of the Premier League after a 3-0 win over a poor Blackburn side on Saturday, and Tottenham went into their game with Arsenal with a 10-point advantage over them. Yet Arsenal thumped Spurs 5-2 at the Emirates Stadium, and Manchester United scraped another last-gasp win away to Norwich, putting themselves back within two points of City. Both Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger may be looking up at their local rivals at the moment in the league, but who knows which will be on top of the other come May.
There are five teams in the mix to be sent down to the Championship at the end of the season, and climbing to mid-table looks increasingly unlikely for all of them. There is a seven-point gap between 15th placed Aston Villa and Wolves in 16th. Yet they are just two points above Wigan in 20th, and all involved have played 26 games. Wolves were the only team who managed to pick up an unlikely point this weekend, as they drew 2-2 away at Newcastle. QPR, Blackburn and Bolton all lost again, and Wigan didn’t play this weekend. The dogfight at the wrong end of the table looks set to rumble on into the final weeks of the season.
We’ve seen Manchester City hammer United 6-1 at Old Trafford, Arsenal beat Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge, and who could forget United’s 8-2 win over the Gunners? On Sunday we were gifted another football match with a rugby scoreline as Tottenham were beaten 5-2 by Arsenal at the Emirates. Spurs had hit five past Newcastle at White Hart Lane in their last league outing, but then went to Arsenal and took a thrashing. Gone are the days when the games between the bigger teams in the division were wars of attrition, with one goal being the decider; now we are seeing the sides go all out for a big win over their rivals, and it is great.
Since his arrival at the club, Martin O’Neill has produced great football, and results to match at Sunderland. Even though O’Neill’s team lost their last game in the league against Arsenal 2-1, they deserved more, and avenged that when they knocked the Gunners out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 triumph. However, it was West Brom who were the first team to convincingly put the sword to Sunderland under O’Neill. Peter Odemwingie led his team to a 4-0 victory at The Hawthorns. That said, O’Neill has still managed to rack up 22 points out of 36 in his first 12 Premier League games, and these are his first back-to-back defeats as Sunderland manager.
Week after week, Manchester City seem to brush their opponents aside, and cross-city rivals Manchester United scrap away to get that vital win required to keep pace. Spurs are looking erratic and took a serious hit to morale after their defeat by Arsenal, and are now eight points behind second-placed United, who are two behind City. Which side of Manchester will claim the title is another debate. United have the experience in finishing at the top of the pile, but City look the stronger side, having scored the most goals and conceded the least with a goal difference of 48.
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