United on top for first time in five months; City falter again on the road as Swansea claim spoils
Manchester United leapfrogged Manchester City at the top of the Barclays Premier League on what could prove to be a pivotal day in the title race.
With the two rivals both kicking off simultaneously on Sunday afternoon, the pressure was palpable on both sides of Manchester as they attempted to recover from midweek Europa League fixtures.
United entertained West Brom at Old Trafford, whilst City were faced with the more daunting task in the shape of a trip to South Wales to face a dangerous Swansea side.
The Swans have been imperious at home all season, playing a brand of football scarcely seen in the Premier League by any team, let alone that of a newly-promoted one.
Their win yesterday though, secured by Luke Moore’s 83rd minute strike, must rank above all of their many notable achievements this season.
It also cast fresh doubts over Roberto Mancini’s side, and their ability to last the distance in their inaugural Premier League title chase.
The Welsh club’s win wasn’t undeserved, indeed had Scott Sinclair not had a first-half penalty saved by Joe Hart, the margin of victory may have been even greater.
The Citizens’ misery was compounded by United’s comfortable victory over West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies were the only team to avoid defeat at Old Trafford in the Premier League last season, when under the guidance of new Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo, but were easily overcome this time.
Two goals from Wayne Rooney, the second from the penalty spot, ensured the Red Devils finished a Barclays Premier League weekend in pole position for the first time since early October.
Even for the most hardened of City followers, relinquishing top spot with just two months of the season remaining, and to a team so savvy at the business end of campaigns, points to ominous signs.
If United do maintain their current form and claim an unprecedented 20th league title, the blue half of Manchester will only have themselves to blame.
A poor sequence of results away from home has seen a five-point advantage be dismantled and become a one-point deficit. Just two victories in their previous eight away trips contradicts entirely with a 100 percent winning ratio at Eastlands and that may ultimately prove their downfall.
However, all hope is certainly not lost for City, and they have an opportunity to claim a league double over United when the two clubs meet at the Etihad Stadium on April 30th. In the words of Roberto Mancini, that is “the day the Championship will be decided.”