Halfway into the 2012/13 Premiership season, the race for the title looks ominous. Still reeling from losing last season’s title to neighbours and fierce rivals Manchester City in dramatic fashion, Manchester United confirmed their place as the current campaign’s comeback kings with a last gasp victory over Newcastle United at Old Trafford.
It was the fourth time this season that the Red Devils had recovered from a losing position at home to take all three points. Opponents Newcastle led on three occasions but succumbed to Javier Hernandez’s late winner. Meanwhile, City lost away to Sunderland, where an Etihad stadium old boy, Adam Johnson, rifled in a bittersweet winner. This opened up a seven point gap between the top two which would tend to suggest to the neutral that the league is all but over (given United’s dominance of 12 league titles in 20 Premiership years). Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was quick to dispel this notion – “At this moment, United are better than us, they are at the top, but we have time to recover. Seven points is no problem.”
In unsavoury scenes at Old Trafford, the men in the middle felt the full wrath of Ferguson’s famous ‘hairdryer’ treatment as he lambasted the officials whilst prowling the touchline following Newcastle’s controversial second goal. Frustratingly Ferguson escaped action as the FA chose to ignore the Scot’s actions (notwithstanding his recent over-the-top defence of Robin Van Persie at Swansea). By contrast, Harry Redknapp and Roberto Mancini have been invited by the FA to explain their comments after yesterday’s fixtures where they both criticised the officiators of their respective matches.
Elsewhere, a Juan Mata winner continued Chelsea’s good form cementing their spot in third place. A Gareth Bale-inspired Spurs gave the North Londoners plenty of Christmas cheer as they put four past Aston Villa on the road in Birmingham. David Moyes’ Everton sustained their impressive form this season with a hard-fought win over Wigan at Goodison Park.
At the foot of the table, QPR slumped to a second successive league defeat, beaten at Loftus Road by West Brom. January cannot come soon enough for Harry Redknapp, Whether he likes it or not, it will be wheeling and dealing time.