Premier League: Why Manchester United Will Not Miss Out on the Title Again

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterFebruary 4, 2013

Wayne Rooney is emerging as a goal threat for Manchester United again.
Wayne Rooney is emerging as a goal threat for Manchester United again.Clive Mason/Getty Images

Manchester United possess a nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League table and are seemingly destined for a 20th championship triumph after their win at Fulham on Saturday.

Coupled with nearest rivals Manchester City drawing 2-2 at home to Liverpool on Sunday, the weekend results have been good for United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

We have been here before, of course, with United letting their guard down last season and allowing City to fight back to claim their first title in 44 years.

But this season Ferguson and his team are in a more determined mood, and any such capitulation will not be contemplated.

Ahead of this season, Ferguson added striker Robin van Persie to his squad from Arsenal, in a deal reported to be worth £24 million, according to the Daily Mail.

The Old Trafford boss was clearly in no mood to leave the Premier League trophy hanging around outside of his own silverware cabinet.

True to form, Van Persie has continued where he left off last season with his 30 league goals for the Gunners, grabbing 22 strikes this season in all competitions.

The Holland international has already been the difference in several key matches this season, but his his continual ability to find space and outfox defenders will always make him difficult to face for opposition players for the remainder of the campaign.

The 29-year-old also has only a 2005 FA Cup-winner's medal from his time at Arsenal in his trophy cabinet, after almost a decade in England. That statistic alone will be enough to hurt any player of Van Persie's talent.

His desire to collect a title triumph will mirror, if not surpass Ferguson's own, and that in itself would be enough to see United win the Premier League.

However, fellow striker Wayne Rooney is becoming a more prominent force for United. His winner at Fulham at the weekend was his fifth in as many games, since returning to the team from a knee injury.

The England international has, relatively, been on the periphery this season, with Van Persie receiving the plaudits for his finishing. But now Rooney is finding his full form and fitness again, which will ensure the United front line is firing on all cylinders.

There is still a question mark over the United rearguard and goalkeeper David de Gea, who appears to lack the confidence to boss his area, unlike previous incumbents such as Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar did.

It takes even Ferguson a while to locate a goalkeeper of genuine calibre though, with several No.1s tried between the departure of Schmeichel and the arrival of Van der Sar.

However, it is across Manchester where the real seeds for United's title win will be sown.

City do not appear to have the same spirit and determination within the squad this season, with too many key players remaining inconsistent, while the loss of Vincent Kompany for several weeks with a ankle problem is a brutal blow.

Even with an eight-point lead in the first week of April, there was an air of vulnerability about United last season which City eventually capitalised on in the final furlong of the title race.

City manager Roberto Mancini told reporters after the draw with Liverpool on Sunday that the title race was not over, but he does not seem to have the same conviction for his team.

The Etihad Stadium side still have enough class players to mount a serious challenge to retain their title, but do they have enough to threaten United this season?

The Premier League title is United's to lose this season, and Ferguson will not allow a repeat of last year to catch up with his side.