Apr 11, 2012

More Than a Lifeline for Man City

Apparently, anointing Manchester United as English Premier League champions was a bit premature after all. Because after today's results, the gap between first-placed Man United and second-placed Manchester City is a mere five points.

There are five games left, including an uber-crucial Manchester derby (pronounced dar-bee) on April 30. In other words, there is everything left to play for.

If you're surprised at this turn of events, you're surely not alone. Forty-eight hours ago, Man United appeared to be in cruise control to repeat as champions and capture their fifth Premiership title in the last six years (and eighth in the last 13, if you're counting that far back). City had just imploded at the Emirates after dropping points at home against Sunderland the week prior. Roberto Mancini's men didn't seem capable of anything, even beating a 13th-placed club, much less by four goals to nothing. Yet that's exactly what happened today, as Citizens dropped West Bromwich Albion by 4-0.

More surprising still was United's loss to Wigan today, less than two days after looking so superior to Queens Park Rangers, whom Latics are battling for relegation (interestingly enough, QPR won today as well and like Wigan are clear of the drop zone, at least for now). It's unlike Sir Alex Ferguson to let his team become complacent so close to the end of the season, even with an eight point lead. With City having the edge in goal difference and the April 30 derby match taking place at Eastlands, Red Devils nation has reason to be worried.

If there's a bright spot for Man U, it's that City have the tougher schedule the rest of the way. The Sky Blues visit Newcastle, who will likely playing for a spot in the Champions League, on the penultimate matchday. City also play at 10th-placed Norwich (it's pronounced Norridge), while United play only one game away from Manchester, at Sunderland, on the last day of the season. Man U's other matches are against Aston Villa, who are crap, and Swansea, who are fading fast, having lost their last four in a row.

Still, it's not out of the question that United will drop points once or even twice, in addition to losing the derby match. The next couple of matchdays will be crucial. If City drop points in either of their next two games, at Norwich and Wolverhampton, while United take the maximum from theirs, it will in all likelihood be over. If the opposite happens, the April 30 grudgematch will take on an even greater significance. Either way, it's going to be tense. So buckle up!

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