Premier League review: Don’t write Man United off just yet
Alex Sharp looks back at the ninth instalment of top flight action and the Demolition Derby at Old Trafford
It’s always nice to see Sir Alex Ferguson eating some humble pie – and the Super Sunday visit of the noisy neighbours certainly lived up to the billing.
Mario Balotelli producing a fire cracker of a display in City’s derby day demolition. David Silva was in sumptuous form, Micah Richards was a rock and even James Milner provided some attacking flair. United, meanwhile. were a shadow of the side that decimated Arsenal 8-2.
Clearly, some stats are required to understand the magnitude of this result.
Fergie’s side suffered their first defeat at Old Trafford in 25 league games. In fact, it was United’s worst home result since City demolished them 5-0 back in 1955 – and the Red Devils hadn’t conceded six goals at home in the league since 1930.
But the panic buttons don’t need to be hit just yet.
Yes, City are five clear at the top. Yes, they are playing scintillating football – but traditionally United come good in the second half of the season, when it really counts.
City haven’t been involved in the title race for decades – they haven’t felt such pressure as a unit and have looked fairly average in the Champions League thus far.
Having said that, Roberto Mancini won a treble of Serie A titles with Inter Milan and will probably bolster his star-studded squad in January.
Ferguson will, however, be alarmed by the frailty of his back line.
Rio Ferdinand was clumsy and off the pace, while Jonny Evans proved once again that he lacks the ability to don the United shirt.
What we learnt at Old Trafford on Sunday is that City are true contenders. United will respond and we’re going to have a spectacular title race on our hands in the coming months, especially if Chelsea and others can compete.
Back in the capital, Chelsea self combusted to hand QPR the three points. André Villas-Boas’s side ended their run of 63 games unbeaten against newly promoted sides in the league (@OptaJoe) in controversial circumstances.
The usually calm and diplomatic Chelsea boss was left flabbergasted by referee Chris Foy’s decisions on Sunday – but sadly he can’t have a real complaint about the dismissals.
What a result for QPR but what a shambles for Chelsea. Two moments of madness left them chasing the game.
Crucially, Didier Drogba’s red card rules him out of this weekend’s clash against Arsenal.
The Gunners, who continued their recovery from a horrendous start to the campaign, once again had Robin van Persie to thank for their 3-1 victory over Stoke. The Dutchman continued his imperious form, hitting a double to reach 24 goals in his last 26 league games.
However, an influential performance from Gervinho will please fans. The Ivory Coast international scored one and set up Van Persie’s double.
He didn’t even misplace a pass throughout the game, finding a team mate with all 22 attempts. Perhaps now his direct runs and improved input can take some of the pressure off the captain’s shoulders.
Drogba haunting Arsenal has been a common occurrence in recent years but with the petulant predator out, it’s a massive opportunity for the Gunners. Chelsea need to prevail to keep the title race open otherwise soon it could be a two horse race in Manchester.