Manchester United currently lie at the top of the Premiership, four points clear of their nearest challengers, Arsenal. Many will be expecting them to win their nineteenth title with ease, and surpass Liverpool’s total in the process. However, their remaining fixtures are tough, and with Arsenal having played one less game at this stage, the crown is by no means secured. Whether Manchester City, their local rivals, have it in them to catch Ferguson’s team, is another matter.
United may well live to rue their loss at Chelsea on Tuesday. One up, and in control of the game, they let Chelsea come back into the game and in the process gave up the chance to move seven points clear of Arsenal and thirteen of City, a cushion which may have been unsurpassable. As it stands, the gap between United and the rest is very reachable, especially considering the fixtures that are still to come: United have to play both Liverpool and Arsenal away, as well as Chelsea at home. City on the other hand must only play two of the top six; they have clashes away at Chelsea and Liverpool.
With United without talismanic captain Nemanja Vidic on the weekend, after the Serb was sent off against Chelsea, their central defence will be looking very bare indeed. Rio Ferdinand is very doubtful, while Jonny Evans is also injured. Wes Brown, out of favour this season, will probably partner Chris Smalling, who has impressed of late, but conceded the penalty that gave Chelsea the win midweek. Luis Suarez will like the look of United’s back line, and Andy Carroll may well be in contention for what would be his debut. If United lose, the title race will have been thrown wide open.
City meanwhile face what should be a straightforward game against Wigan, who lie bottom of the league after two consecutive losses. They have, however, been rocked by the news that instrumental centre-half Kolo Toure has been suspended for taking an illegal substance. His former boss, Arsene Wenger, has come to his defence, saying Toure takes a slimming pill. Nevertheless, it is uncertain how long he will be out for, and this could be detrimental to City’s remaining title hopes.
Despite United’s tricky fixture list, it seems inconceivable that City could catch up as much as a point per game. Unquestionably, Untied do face a tricky run-in, but their know-how and experience may well prove vital yet again. If they are to usurped, it seems that Arsenal will be the team that will prove their undoing, but Robin van Persie’s injury is a massive blow, and their Carling Cup defeat to Birmingham may prove a thorn in their side. City, for now, should probably instead look to consolidate third place as Chelsea regain form, instead of put their efforts into a title push.