Friday 8 March 2013

Red Devils widen the gap

With only ten matches to go, Manchester United have a seemingly unassailable 12-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the English Premier League. Since Christmas United have been on a winning streak interrupted only by their 1-1 draw at Tottenham who sit in 3rd place after their 2-1 home win over their north London rivals Arsenal. Manchester City's goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers followed by a 2-2 home draw against Liverpool and a shock 3-1 defeat at struggling Southampton widened the gap at the top, but a 2-0 victory over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium steadied the ship. The brilliance of Gareth Bale has helped Tottenham pick up points with narrow wins. The Welshman completed his brace with a last-minute strike in typical fashion as Tottenham came from behind at West Ham to triumph 3-2 to the detriment of Chelsea and Arsenal. The instability of Chelsea under interim manager Rafa Benitez has seen the Blues descend to 4th spot after losing 1-0 at home to bottom club Queens Park Rangers, sharing 4 goals with visiting Southampton and falling 3-2 at Newcastle, while despite smashing Newcastle 7-3 and hammering West Ham 5-1 at the Emirates, Arsenal's failure to overcome their closest rivals leaves them in 5th place having lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City and 2-1 at Chelsea before drawing 2-2 at home to Liverpool. The 2 Merseyside teams are next in the table with Everton enjoying a 3-point advantage over Liverpool but the Reds, who after earning 2-2 draws at Man City and Arsenal were stunned by 2 West Brom goals at Anfield, seem to have found their scoring touch putting 5 past Swansea at Anfield and 4 past hosts Wigan without reply. Recent Capital One Cup winners Swansea occupy 8th spot ahead of West Bromwich Albion on goal difference. Fulham, Stoke City and West Ham United are 7 points adrift and in danger of getting sucked into the relegation battle together with Norwich, Sunderland, Newcastle and Southampton. Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa lie on the boarder line of relegation separated only by goal difference. After some heroic comebacks with late goals from Adam Le Fondre giving Reading wins over West Brom, Newcastle and Sunderland and a 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea, the Royals have faltered in recent matches and a disastrous 3-0 loss at home to Wigan has kept them in the relegation zone. Despite their 1-0 victory at Chelsea and draws against Tottenham, West Ham, Man City, and Norwich, followed by a recent 2-1 win at Southampton, Queen Park Rangers remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League but only 4 points below the drop zone.