Well they’ll be dancing in the red half of Manchester this morning after the fantastic day December 29th turned out to be for the Red Devils. Firstly, I awoke to discover that Steven Gerrard had been arrested after a night out in the Liverpudlian Rivera, or Southport as it’s really known, apparently after having an altercation with a DJ who wouldn’t play the music he liked, but no word if Gerrard wanted his favourites from Phil Collins or Coldplay on the decks: Note to self, never, ever book Steven Gerrard to DJ at a party. As I write this, Gerrard has been charged with assault and affray and has been bailed to return to the Magistrates on January 23rd. Ironically, as is the way with such things, Liverpool have to entertain Everton in the Merseyside derby on the 19th, so Everton fans will no doubt be composing suitable ditties as we speak. Can Gerrard maintain his excellent Christmas form after this?
Secondly, United won 1-0 in the evening kick off against Middlesborough in a laboured performance that only seemed to settle down when Gary Neville and Paul Scholes joined the fray seconds after Tuncay had missed a glorious chance to put Boro ahead. United had plenty of chances and possession but Middlesborough stuck to their task manfully and made United work to get the three points through Berbatov’s smashing volley under pressure. The post Christmas fixture list is usually when Manchester United begin to grind down the leaders, slowly, methodically, patiently, knowing that 10 Premiership Trophies shows exactly what their rivals fear the most, they’ve been here so many times and even misfiring up front, keep garnering the points to move them upwards.
Even though they’re struggling for goals, only scoring 9 in the last 7 matches, they’ve still collected 17 points, four more than Liverpool and seven more than Chelsea over the same period as well as winning the World Club Championship and moving into the Semi-Finals of the League Cup. Now that’s ominous form and with Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all yet to go to Old Trafford, Ferguson knows that the Premiership is in his own hands, win all three of those games and United will be Champions again. Forget Chelsea pushing Liverpool, they’re all over the place at the moment, simply showing what an important and under-rated player Michael Essien really is to the Blues. Normally, with the transfer window opening, you’d expect them to go out and sign 2 or 3 players, but probably not this year, apparently all they need is a striker. Peter Kenyon has said so, so it must be true.
Manchester United’s next home game is crucial to Chelsea’s faltering title challenge as the Blues continue to struggle with absences, enforced and self induced, to keep pace with Liverpool and hold off United as well as battling on three fronts and the Red Devils will be waiting for them a week on Sunday, hoping that New Year will seem so familiar to Manchester United. I can’t see anything other than the Red Devils turning the screw on the the top two and it will finally show us if Liverpool and Chelsea do have the stomach for a title fight, because United certainly do.