They think it’s all over…. well maybe it isn’t quite just yet. Last Sunday evening, everyone to a man was reading the last rites on the Premier League title race as Manchester United opened up an eight-point gap on rivals Manchester City courtesy of a win over Queens Park Rangers and City’s defeat at Arsenal.
Fast forward three days and new life has seemingly been breathed into the season’s finale. United’s surprise defeat at Wigan, a team they had beaten in all 14 of their previous meetings down the years, has given City a glimmer of a chance now that the gap is back to two points following the Citizens’ 4-0 win at home to West Brom and yesterday’s 6-1 drubbing of Norwich.
For once, Sir Alex Ferguson has few complaints about a loss, stating Wigan fully merited their victory, and instead turned his ire on his own players for a sloppy display, giving them a gentle reminder that the title is not over until it is mathematically irretrievable.
For what it’s worth, I still don’t see the Premier League trophy ending up anywhere but Old Trafford.
United were not going to go until the end of the season without dropping points and given City’s iffy away record in 2012 (regardless of the romp at Carrow Road), there is little to suggest that Roberto Mancini’s side can overhaul their local rivals, even with the two sides set to meet at the Etihad at the end of this month.
Of course, the closing of the gap means Ferguson’s men may just begin to feel some pressure. Lucky for them, then, that opponents Aston Villa will be most obliging in allowing United to restore their five-point lead at the summit.
You can’t see them troubling United in any way and even the Villa fans know this: only football supporters are capable of true gallows humour as funny as the chant ‘Emile Heskey, he’ll score when he wants’.
United are strong favourites with bwin at 11/50, but even at those short odds you won’t have anyone looking to oppose them against a desperately poor Aston Villa outfit who won’t find many friends, even at 12/1. The draw is 19/4.
The Villans have won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions and even that was a fortuitous last-minute victory at home to Fulham.
They are probably going to gather enough points to be safe, but is that the limit of the ambition of the club now? If not, then surely Alex McLeish will not survive to see a second season in the Villa Park hot seat – he has done a miserable job.
Even if City have cranked up the pressure on United with their win on Saturday, it is inconceivable Villa can do them a favour.
With a lack of goals a severe problem (only Stoke, Wigan and Wolves have scored fewer than Villa’s 35), you can’t see them troubling United in any way and even the Villa fans know this: only football supporters are capable of true gallows humour as funny as the chant ‘Emile Heskey, he’ll score when he wants’.
It is just a case of getting a bit more value on a United win and the 19/20 that the Red Devils win to nil – the manner in which they have won five out of their last six home games – is buying money. Get on it big time.
Recommended bet: Manchester United to win to nil @ 19/20
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