Man United set to make experience count: Premier League review
Alex Sharp looks back at the weekend's Premier League football, as Manchester United showed they are up for the fight
Sir Alex Ferguson has frequently referred to the closing stages of a season as ‘squeaky bum time’. It’s all about who has the momentum, who has the belief and who has the nerve.
Wayne Rooney’s double on Sunday proved United will continue on their usual points conveyor belt at the end of a season, whereas Manchester City seem to be stuttering.
Roberto Mancini’s men have only won two of their last eight league away games, having lost their composure and top spot at Swansea. A lack of title experience cannot be an excuse – Mancini has won numerous titles and so have many of the squad.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are in free-fall – which clearly coincides with the England manager speculation and the north London derby demolotion.
Their fierce rivals Arsenal are drawing on their title winning credentials of years past and playing with passion and purpose.
The sensational last-minute victory over Newcastle on Monday encapsulated the Arsenal revival since the San Siro and Sunderand debacles of February.
An inspired Theo Walcott has helped with the turn around. For the majority of the season he’s been weak, lacking in confidence and appeared lost stuck out on the right.
But ever since his match winning goals against Spurs he looks willing to take on markers, is asking for the ball and is managing to deliver a fairly consistant ball. Just look at Arsenal’s main threats against Newcastle – it was all down the right and all went through a revitalised Walcott.
Remarkably, since the beginning of last season, Walcott has notched up 15 league assists – a figure only bettered by three players: Nani, David Silva and Ashley Young.
Arsene Wenger will be thoroughly delighted with the resolve and spirit his squad is displaying. They have now made a small piece of history, coming from behind in four consecutive Premier League games to win.
But while Arsenal look to cement their Champions League spot, Liverpool seem entrenched in denial and look to miss out on fourth again unless their performances drastically improve.
The Carling Cup victory led to wild claims that ‘King Kenny’ had revived Liverpool and that this was the foundation of further successes.
However, when you take a clear look, Dalglish’s signings have been abysmal.
Andy Carroll has been a flop, Jordan Henderson has been inconsistent, Charlie Adam has failed to shine and Stewart Downing was never worth it.
Only Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard pose a genuine, quality threat and the rest of the squad are below par for a Champions League side.
An astonishing statistic that reveals Dalglish’s side’s lack of quality infront of goal is that Liverpool have had 22 more shots than Manchester United in the league this term but have scored 38 fewer goals. The contrast is staggering.
Remarkably, If the Premier League had started on 1 January 2012, the relegation zone would read: Queens Park Rangers, Liverpool and Wolves.
All three need to find a new impetus but Liverpool especially need to realign their lofty ambitions.