The Title Battle
Monday’s narrow derby win has put Manchester City in the driving seat for the Premier League crown with just two games to go. But as the old saying goes there’s ‘many a slip twixt the cup and the lip’. With an away game against in-form Papiss Cisse and his accompanying team-mate, Mancini could yet end up with red wine all down the front of his immaculately tailored shirt.
Newcastle have been a revelation this season as their policy of plundering European leagues for unpolished diamonds is on the verge of reaping rich rewards. Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohann Cabaye and Demba Ba have made instant impacts since arriving last summer, helping to regain some of that attacking flair which had gone missing.
It has been Papiss Cisse who has, or at least could, make the crucial difference in their Champions League chase. He has scored 13 goals in 12 games since his arrival from Freiburg in January. Right now he is in the form of his life, the type of form which turns innocuous possession in to a goal of the season contender.
Roberto Mancini will send his defenders out with strict instructions to keep a watchful eye on the Senegalese front-man. Alex Ferguson believes, or at least hopes, Cisse will hand the advantage back to the red half of Manchester.
If Newcastle do take points of City then Manchester United have the seemingly simpler task of beating Swansea at Old Trafford at 1/5. Robert Mancini has done his darndest to heat the Swansea blood by saying what we all think, because it is so, that United have the easier game this weekend. Newcastle are fighting for a top four, possibly a top 3 finish. Swansea have nothing left to play for but their pride. Which is why Mancini has been trying to prick it.
His plan might work and Swansea could play out of their skins trying to prove they’re no easy touch. Or Manchester United could put in another flat performance and not get away with it as they have done so many times over the last two seasons. In recent games United have dropped points to Everton and Wigan, and couldn’t even manage a single shot on target in their 1-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium on Monday. This isn’t the barn-storming United of years gone by.
That said, you can never count an Alex Ferguson side out but it seems as though the key to this season’s title challenge will be City’s visit to the stadium formerly known as St James Park. If they win this game the title is City’s, anything less and United could yet lift they’re twentieth league crown.
Of course they could both win their final games and goal difference will be the decider for the first time in Premier League history. But that seems way too straight forward for this particular season.