1) Having watched Southampton somehow grab three points against City, it was essential that we win our game in hand at Old Trafford vs. Everton and extend our lead at the top of the table to twelve points. Many have cited our massive tie with Real Madrid as the game we should be looking out for but that wasn’t the case for me. After throwing away the title last season, and watching our nearest rivals gloat about it for the past season, the only thing that really matters to me is winning the Premier League, with anything else being a lovely little bonus. Fortunately for me, Sir Alex also agrees and so he played a very strong side that looked very comfortable at times throughout the game. The gaffer later claimed he had planned to rest up to seven players, but a twelve point gap is not something he wanted to pass up on.
2) After what happened last season with so few games left, it’s understandable that so many United fans remain cautious but that is not stopping me from being optimistic. We have a twelve point lead with only twelve games left. I really cannot see us losing four games and drawing another (taking into account our superior goal difference). If we can take maximum points from our next few ‘relatively easier’ games against bottom side QPR, Norwich, Reading and Sunderland, I’m certain we’ll win the league. Manchester United vs. Manchester City at Old Trafford would subsequently follow, and we’d be in a great position to take them on then. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though and take each game as they come.
3) It is interesting to note that, as of this moment, the gap between first placed Barcelona and second placed Athletico Madrid is also twelve points, with Real Madrid a further four points behind in third place. In contrast, Manchester United are now twelve points ahead of our inner-city rivals with Chelsea trailing us by 16 points in third. Although a different argument entirely, I think these stats go some way to dismissing this myth that La Liga is a two horse race and that the Premier League is often fought out between three or four clubs.
4) Wayne Rooney had another tremendous game after putting in a real shift which saw him add a lot to our attack but even more in aiding our defence. Various clearances and headers eased the pressure on our defence and ensured we finished the game with a well-deserved clean sheet. After his recent goal-scoring performances, he seemed to drop even deeper from his usual role and looked comfortable doing so which is brilliant to see.
5) Phil Jones and Rafael da Silva are another two players that had a fantastic game. The former played in a deep midfield role which allowed him to cut off the supply to Fellaini and eliminate the danger at an early stage. He’s played this role before against Spurs where he tracked Bale and stopped him from cutting inside, and he did a good job at doing so. You’d imagine he’ll be starting in Spain this Wednesday to reduce any damage a certain Portuguese superstar might cause us. Rafael also had a splendid game but rather than focus on how he kept Baines in his back-pocket all game, I’d love to point out his assist for our second. The timing, the vision and the execution would have made Paul Scholes proud.
6) There really is not much left to be said about Ryan Giggs that already hasn’t been. We can point out that he has scored in 23 successive seasons and that he made more appearances in the Premier League than Manchester City have, but none of that does him justice. The only thing I can say about the Welsh wizard is that there will never be another Ryan Giggs in football.
7) Finally, we’re leading the league and about to embark on what is shaping up to be one of the greatest Champions League matches of recent memory. We’re finally picking up form and I genuinely do believe we can give Mourinho’s men a run for their money. Yes, they are favourites and I wouldn’t argue with claims that they are the better team but I still feel that we’re good enough to go through to the next round. I think a 1-1 draw would be a good result to go back home with, but I can see us losing 2-1 which wouldn’t be the end of the world. As long as we go out there and play the Manchester United way, I’d be delighted. Bring on Madrid!