Manchester United returned to the top of the Premiership after a 6 goal demolition of Newcastle United. With Arsenal not being able to make the best out of an Adebayor goal, United are back on top—but only on superior goal difference.
This season we have seen one of the hottest title contests since the establishment of Premiership. Arsenal have emerged as strong title contenders, while Manchester United have kept most of their form from last season and are continuing to have a consistent run.
For most part of this season so far, we've seen Arsenal lead Manchester United on the chase, and finally, as a United fan, we have regained the status of league leaders.
When I was looking at this weekend's fixtures, I thought Arsenal would have no chance to slip up—especially against a team like Birmingham.
But this was not the case.
The Gunners arguably had one of their most uncharacteristic performances, not being able to dominate the game, and showing their vulnerability in set pieces. Although Adebayor executed a controversial penalty to give a half time lead, it just lasted another six minutes after the interval. Gary O' Connor unexpectedly lifted himself to head home an unexpected header. Birmingham did a great job fighting for their dear lives, clearing every ball that went in the box, and they unexpectedly fended off streams of attack from the Arsenal strikeforce. The full time whistle blew, Arsenal wasted their chances to consolidate their position in the Premier League.
As for Manchester United, no one could have guessed they could pull off a six goal rout.
While managerless Newcastle did a pretty good job in stopping United in the first half, the immense firepower came to United after the interval.
The first goal came when Alan Smith kicked his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in the toe, resulting in a free kick that was well executed by Ronny as he bulleted the shot under the wall and past the net, although Shay Given had a slight touch.
The stalemate broke. The floodgates opened. The goals just kept coming.
The second goal came when Ryan Giggs was able to make use of a horrible defensive mistake—Shay Given cleared the ball, only to hit Claudio Cacapa and end up in Giggs' feet. Giggs calmly passed a cutting ground pass to Tevez, with the Argentine finishing it with ease.
The third was the goal of the match, in my opinion. The attacking trio—Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez combined extremely well to setup Ronaldo for one of the most exquisite finishes I've seen in all time.
By now, Newcastle was done, but United had just finished half of the business.
The next three goals showed Newcastle's faltering defence, and showed the Champions' attacking flair. Ferdinand was able to tap in a volley from a tight angle which was followed by two late finishes from Ronaldo and Tevez, with the Portuguese getting his first ever hat-trick in United.
With Harry Redknapp rejecting to be the gaffer of the Magpies, they have to find a quality manager that can pick up the pieces, or else they would rule themselves out for any European football next season.
With Manchester United level with Arsenal on points, both Wenger and Ferguson would mark April 12 in their diaries as the North London side visit Old Trafford. This, potentially could be a title decider.
With Chelsea lurking not far behind, the Premiership title race will continue to be wide open for the rest of the season.