Manchester United swatted aside Sunderland 3-1 on Saturday with almost embarrassing ease. The victory said plenty about why United lead the table—and why, at this point, the Red Devils are favorites for the title.
Inspired again by Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in the final third, United tore apart Sunderland with two goals in the first 20 minutes. Van Persie opened the scoring with his 12th of the season—tied for most in the league—and Tom Cleverley's classy curler doubled the advantage moments later.
Rooney made it 3-0 in the second half, and by the time Fraizer Campbell pulled one back for Sunderland 18 minutes from the final whistle, a comeback was only a distant possibility.
The possibility existed, of course, because of the state of United's defense so far this season. Sir Alex Ferguson's team have allowed 24 goals, third-most among the table's top half and just 12th-best overall. But the return of captain and influential defender Nemanja Vidic should calm nerves over the unit's alarming leakiness.
United have already demonstrated they can score on any team on any matchday. With Vidic's return, the defense might start to balance the equation.
If so, the title race has a definite frontrunner.