Bolton, Berbatov and a look ahead to Bayern
Have things become much clearer after a remarkable day’s football on Saturday? It certainly looks like it. Both Chelsea and Manchester United beat Aston Villa and Bolton respectively in ruthless fashion, while Arsenal lost ground in the race for the title after being held to a draw. Many would not discount Arsenal just yet – arguing that they have the easier run-in and that both United and Chelsea still have to play each other. I wouldn’t say it is a two-horse race just yet, but for Arsenal to realistically win the title they would have to win all six of their remaining games. For the Red Devils, they have to make sure they gain more points than Chelsea for the remainder, but that’s easier said than done. You feel next week’s clash on Super Sunday will be a title-defining game.
There are no easy games…Bolton an exception?
Nowadays, we’re used to seeing the “Love United, Hate Glazer” banner at United games. Cheeky Bolton fans brought along a banner of their own, similar to United’s, except that the words ‘Glazer’ and ‘United’ were reversed. That’s was all very amusing but it was the visiting fans who had the last laugh. By the time the score was 3-0, there were only a few Bolton fans in sight near the banner. You can’t really blame the majority for leaving early as the Trotters were shocking, particularly in the second half.
It took a while for a Rooney-less United to get going, but began to dominate possession and soon took the initiative. Jlloyd Sameul scored an inexplicable own goal in the first half and in the second, Bolton had collapsed under severe pressure from the away side. This was a game full of costly errors and one wonders how this side have appeared to avoid relegation. Manchester United were cruising and really cranked up the pressure in the final quarter in a bid to increase goal difference in a week where Chelsea had scored twelve league goals. Sir Alex Ferguson believes this season could be decided on goal difference. As we head into the penultimate month, winning games and scoring goals will be crucial for the defending champions but we must remember there are no easy games in the Premier League. Especially because we’ve played Bolton twice this season…
Berbatov and Nani continue to prove critics wrong
There is little Berbatov could do these days. All he really can do is score goals and he’s doing just that but although his appearances in the team have been limited, his impact has been priceless. The ‘lazy’ tag which he acquired last season is no longer correct – ‘hardworking’ bodes well for him now don’t you think?
I’ve always been a big fan of Berbatov but that’s not always been the case with Luis Nani. Before January, his future at the club looked bleak and I had the impression that both Sir Alex and the fans had lost faith in him. However, it takes just one game to rectify yourself. It was the 3-1 victory over Arsenal a few months ago which did just that, a quite blistering performance where he created two of the three goals. And against Bolton he continued his rich vein of form, once again in on the assists. He looks a sure starter against Munich on Tuesday. If United were to win the Premier League, Wayne Rooney will receive most plaudits but you feel that the likes of Evra, Fletcher, Valencia (to name a few) and these two have been inspirational.
Bayern Munich are a different proposition to Milan
This being a repeat of the 1999 final will make this a very special occasion indeed. Manchester United fans can recall that night in Barcelona like it happened yesterday but the Germans would rather forget those dramatic minutes at the Nou Camp where United reached the ‘promise land’. They can finally banish those memories with a victory on Tuesday and although they come into the game as underdogs, you can certainly expect a more balanced tie over the two legs.
In Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben they have two quality players who can change a game instantly, not forgetting Phillip Lahm too who has been first-rate for Bayern this season. On paper, Milan look a better side than the German outfit but that certainly hasn’t shown in action. I would think United will prevail over the 180 minutes, but it shouldn’t be as one-sided as it was against the Rossonieri.