Nemanja Vidic: Will he be the difference?
The attacking aspect of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side is more than healthy: So far, Manchester United has scored 50 league goals, the most conversions at this stage of the season since 1999-2000 (according to Statto.com).
However, the league leaders have also conceded a disturbing 28 goals in the same period. Not since season 2001-02 has United shipped goals at such an alarming rate.
But all is not lost.
The return to fitness of domineering team captain, Nemanja Vidic, may well be crucial in turning the defensive fortunes of Manchester United around.
In the two games Vidic has started since his return from lengthy injury, United has conceded just one goal, or a ratio of 0.5 goals per match. During his absence since mid-September, the team had leaked 22 goals in 14 league fixtures at a rate of 1.6 per game.
United's leader has already made a marked improvement.
If the balance between attacking flair and defensive solidity is successfully addressed in the second half of the season, Manchester United will be Champions once again.
The marquee summer signing of lethal marksman and current Premier League top scorer, Robin van Persie, has already had a significant impact on United’s drive towards a record 20th league title.
The existing return of 14 goals from 17 league starts, as well as six assists, is an incredible example of money wisely invested by the Old Trafford outfit and van Persie’s addition to the squad could well bridge the gap between failure and success.
Sir Alex Ferguson certainly thinks so. Reported by The Telegraph, the United manager had this to say:
He (van Persie) changed the game for us. It is fantastic. He is a fantastic player. He came on and changed the game for us. Every time the ball came up to him, he got hold of it. He turned on them. They were having to go back to their box all the time. He has done well.
More glowing words from Sir Alex for his catalytic signing, but the determined Scotsman is not one to rest on his laurels and he continued:
We're in a good position. We're halfway there. It's important, though, that we do not sit looking at the league table, admiring our position, positive though it is, because we would soon get a rude awakening. Congratulating ourselves on our Premier League lead doesn't mean a thing to me. It's winning the next game that counts.
So, Manchester United pays a visit to the DW Stadium for a tricky away game against Wigan on New Year’s Day.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in defeat and was the beginning of the infamous surrender of an eight-point lead, allowing Manchester City to snatch the Premiership from under United’s noses on goal-difference.
Manchester United is halfway there.
If the two key men, van Persie and Vidic, can continue to strike the balance between attack and defence seen in the two-nil victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the league leaders will be in a formidable position to force the title home.
Is Manchester United behind its turbulent start to the season? Will key men, Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic, lead the team to title spoils? Give me your views below or hit me up on Twitter @jonathanbeever.
Have a great New Year...