It’s the moment that signifies the start of the title run-in every season – Sir Alex Ferguson has started the mind games with his direct opponent.
It’s been a symbol of the Premier League for over a decade – ever since the Kevin Keegan rant of 1996 which arguably cost Newcastle United the title – and this time it’s Roberto Mancini and Manchester City the designated target.
Ferguson was responding to Patrick Vieira’s view on the re-emergence of Paul Scholes from retirement – a move he described as desperate – and he warned the former Arsenal midfielder he had plenty of ammunition.
The last thing City want to be doing is getting embroiled in a battle of wits with the king of mind games because it will only end badly.
And as Ferguson rightly pointed out, if bringing the best English midfielder of the past 20 years back is desperate what does the return of Carlos Tevez suggest?
While Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur stumbling towards the season’s finish-line, Arsenal’s last few results have put a spring in their step and they now look set to finish third.
The Gunners haven’t dropped a point in the Premier League since drawing at Bolton Wanderers on 1 February, recording six wins on the bounce including momentous victories over Liverpool and Tottenham.
This string of good results has seen them climb from seventh into third place, and while they are only one point ahead of Spurs they will hope to hold off their north London rivals.
In contrast, Chelsea and Tottenham seem to be stuttering as we near the end of the season. Spurs have claimed just five points from their last six while Chelsea have taken seven to let the Gunners sneak past them.
You only have to look at Arsenal’s remarkable comeback from 2-0 down against Spurs to win 5-2 to see how much finishing third means to them.
Chelsea didn’t show the same passion at the Etihad on Wednesday and Tottenham continued to stutter against Stoke with their one-time 12 point lead over Arsène Wenger’s side now a distant memory.
While Arsenal face a tough run-in with games against City, Chelsea and Stoke with only six points separating them and Roberto Di Matteo’s team, they definitely have the momentum to push themselves over the line.
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