Back On Top But Can The Red Devils Maintain Their EPL Lead

Damion RobinsonContributor IApril 24, 2010

Back on Top! Perennial league favorites and defending champions Manchester United lifted themselves up back on top of the league table with two games remaining.

Well it is often said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. For Manchester United today, that was a good thing as it was yet another member of the old guards, Ryan Giggs, that stepped up and secured victory with two composed, text book penalty kicks either side of a superb lobbed shot by Nani. 

Its a good thing this old dog's trick is winning crucial games.

In a most critical match up at the famed Old Trafford stadium, the Red Devils carved out a hard fought 3-1 victory over the EPL's in form team, Tottenham Hotspur. The result of the game may very well have decided the order of the top four in the league this season.

Of the top four teams, Arsenal are in action today against Manchester City who are vying for fourth place against the red hot Spurs. Chelsea, now relegated to second place in the standings face Stoke City on Sunday and could regain a one point lead with a victory.

A corny romance novelist couldn't write a more enthralling and dramatic end to a suspence filled season. It still remains unclear as to who will finish on top.

Man U has Sunderland and Stoke City to contend with while Chelsea face Stoke, Liverpool and Wigan Athletic. Only victory in all three games can guarantee silverware for Chelsea as Sir Alex Ferguson's men are finishing strong even wthout their talisman Wayne Rooney.

Likewise, only victory in all their remaining fixtures can give the champions a chance to "fourpeat."

The rest of the table are jostling for fourth place as Arsenal have at least secured third place with an unassailable 71 points.

The multi-millionare owned Manchester City face Arsene Wenger's depleated, deflated Gunners in a crucial match-up later today as they seek to surpass Tottenham, who failed to earn a point today.

They will have all to play for as a place in next season's Champion's league beckons.

With an early kick-off of the day's fixtures, United seized control of the game by the scruff of its neck by dominating ball possession.

Once again, the bumbling, baffling play of Berbatov left spectators quite bemused and "berbatoffed" at his inability to rise to the big occasion. Is this what 30 million pounds gets you these days?

The forward, if he can be aptly called that, was let through on goal with only one defender standing between himself and Gomez in the goal. The "forward" as he has done ever so often, failed to get by one, yes, just a single defender despite having full control of the ball at his feet.

This I would expect from a 2 to 5 million pound signing but not from a 30 million punder.

Many such chances would be gifted to the Bulgarian who seemed to have lost his contact lens or his bearings when on goal as he consistently skied more and more chances over the net.

Sir Alex, cut your losses and invest the proceeds from the sale of CR7 in at least one more worthwhile forward. Hernandez alone won't do. All the other league contenders recognise this and are expected to be very active in the transfer market.

The groundsmen must have laid the oil or ice on the wrong end of the home pitch as both Nani and Bumblertoff, er , I mean, Berbatof, repeatedly went sliding after being sent on goal.

The second half started as the first half ended with neither team testing their respective golakeepers.

The veteran Welchman Giggs, scored his first of two penalty kicks at the start of the second off. The Red Devil's were deservedly awarded a penalty following Berbatov's only meaningful contribution to the game, a cheaky back heel lay-off to the overlapping Patrice Evra. The Frenchman was bundled over by Assou-Ekotto and Giggs placed the ball perfectly to the left corner of the goal, away from the outstretched arms of Gomes who had guessed right.

Spurs responded by substituting David Bentley, who up until that time was having a good game, and introducing the speedy winger Aaron lennon.

The change injected some much needed pace and enterpise into the game with the Spurs gaining the upper hand over their hosts. The introduction of Lennon coupled with the substitution of the ailing French defender, Patrice Evra, with O'shea, swung the momentum in Spur's favor.

His pace and guile was too much for the slower O'shea who was repeatedly left in the players wake. 

The standout player on the day for the Spurs, captain Ledley King, who was playing only his second match since February, after suffering persistent knee problems, leveled the sores in the 70th minute off a Gareth Bale corner.  

Although replays showed that the burly defender gained the advantage by climbing on the back of his marker who was too inexperienced to capitalize on the infringement. A flop to the ground or at least a protest could have allowed him to save face and have the goal disallowed.

Ferguson through caution to the wind and introduced the exciting, super-sub teen Frederico Machedo for another United newby, Rafael Da Silva.

He instantly raised their game and it still remains a mystery why he doesn't get the start over Berbaflop, er, my apologies again, Berbatov.


The teen sensation provided the critical pass to Nani who had the presence of mind to lob the ball over the advancing keeper from a tight angle.

By this time the writing was on the wall as the listless Spurs resigned to accept the fact that their giant killing winning streak had come to an end.


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