Manchester United's draw at Fulham on Sunday sees them drop points once again in the opening games of the season. With the Chelsea juggernaut rolling on, will the Red Devils be left biting at their heels for another year?
Two games into the season is never the ideal time to make bold predictions but, on the evidence of what we have seen, Manchester United will face a difficult task bringing in their 19th English title. Fulham has become a bogey team for Alex Ferguson's men in recent seasons, and Sunday's 2-2 draw continued that trend.
Nani's penalty miss might have cost United the game, but truth be told, Fulham deserved every bit of the point they earned. Damien Duff's hand to ball should ideally have never been a penalty and Brede Hangeland's character alone was sufficient to peg United two points behind Chelsea.
Alex Ferguson was uncharacteristically humble and admitted his side was not good enough for the three points: "In fairness to Fulham, they were the better team in the second half. I don't think we deserved to be in front at 2-1". Fergie clearly saw that problems the team experienced in the latter parts of the game and will be eager to put them right as soon as possible.
Wayne Rooney has not enjoyed the best six months of his life, but it was easy to see why the Merseysider is one of the first names on the team sheet. In the second half, the United front line seemed missing, such was the paucity of movement in the final third. Dimitar Berbatov had a fantastic game but the others around him, with the exception of Paul Scholes, seemed mediocre at best.
Ji Sung Park and Antonio Valencia both looked laboured throughout the game while Javier Hernandez had a truly forgettable evening. In defence, Jonny Evans and John O'Shea would have surely got a ticking off from the Old Scot as their performances made United look ordinary at the back. Rio Ferdinand must surely be ruing his luck since his injury, as his presence was solely missed at Craven Cottage.
Chelsea, on the other hand, seem to be in a world of their own. 12 goals in 2 games is mighty even by Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA standards, and the Blues look to have quickly forgotten about the Community Shield loss. The fact more worrying for the chasing pack is that Carlo Ancelotti's troops haven't necessarily played their best football in either of their 6-0 wins.
The quality of their opponents was indeed poor, but to win as emphatically as Chelsea, did takes serious commitment and hard work. United would be hoping that someone finds a way to shut down the Blues and does so soon as the fixture list isn't particularly kind to the Red Devils.
United plays West Ham at home, Everton away and then welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford in their next three games. During the same period, Chelsea take on Stoke at Stamford Bridge, West Ham away and recently 6-0 drubbed Blackpool again at home. This means that with only five games played into the season, United could easily be four or five points behind the Blues.
Last season, as we well know, the title was decided by a single point, and losing 'silly points,' as Ferguson put it, early in the season will certainly worry United fans. Ferguson has now gone a second season with adding very little to his squad. The arrivals of Hernandez, Smalling, and Bebe will surely reap dividends in time but, are they perhaps too young to make an impact this season?
Give your views on whether United will again find it difficult usurp Chelsea this year. Or will they win a record 19th Premier League title?
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