Results in today’s matches have created a huge twist in the Premier League title race. The lunch time kick off saw battling Everton come back strongly to deny United victory in a stunning match at Old Trafford, as the holding champions struggled to a 4-4 draw. Shortly after, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri scored as Manchester City condemned Wolverhampton Wanderers to relegation. City are now only three points behind leaders United, and host their neighbours at the Etihad Stadium on Monday, April 30th in a match which is likely to decide who will be Barclays Premier League champions for 2011/12.
Against Everton, United bounced back from Nikica Jelavic’s opener today to lead 3-1 thanks to Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Nani. Marouane Fellaini pulled one back but Rooney’s second appeared to have seen United home – only for Jelavic and Steven Pienaar to draw Everton level in a remarkable finale. Ferguson said: ”It was an absolute giveaway. We needed to see the game out.”
“It was a travesty – the football we played was fantastic. We scored some great goals and to give away four goals at Old Trafford, I couldn’t believe it.
“They were defensive lapses. Their goals were soft. We created goals by really good football – they got their goals easily.
“Today was a bad performance. Recently we’ve defended very well.”
Alex Ferguson now says rivals City now have the advantage in the title race after a ‘giveaway’ 4-4 draw - “We’ve given them the initiative. It makes the game at the Etihad Stadium more important – it’s the decider really.”
Acknowledging that the game a week tomorrow will be “definitely” the biggest derby of his long United career, Ferguson added: “We have to go there knowing we are capable of getting a result.”
“We need to get a result now at the Etihad and there’s no reason we can’t do that. There’s been the expectancy from City that it could be their decider – it’s our decider too.
“It’s a big game. It’s always a derby of the highest proportions and next week will be no different.”
However, Roberto Mancini is continuing to play down Manchester City’s title hopes despite closing the gap with the win against Wolves. He remains adamant the title is “not in our hands” even though City, who have a superior goal difference, would finish top if they win their remaining three games.
“Only one team can win this title. It’s not in our hands. We have three points less.
“You all wrote the title race was finished. Seven days ago, the race was finished. You wrote it. I congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson on a good season.”
But, is this all mind games from the experienced Manchester City manager? since he has dismissed his sides title hopes, performances and results have certainty improved, if so, his tactics are having the desired effect. The team have also been boosted by the return of last season’s captain and top scorer Carlos Tevez who started again in todays match. Clearly the odds of Premier League success for City have improved dramatically since this morning. If Mancini win’s next Monday evening at the Etihad, I could see the title race going down to the final day of the season. But, If United were to win, it would effectively be over. The Red Devils would have to lose their last two games to give City and chance of regaining lost points, personally I can’t see this happening. Clearly the head-to-head game next week will be the most important fixture so far this season.
Football fans across England can now look forward to a week full of mind games, as both managers look to gain the upper hand going into the ‘most important’ Manchester derby ever. All I’ll say is, come on United!
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