Man U on the ropes

Published: Friday | December 6, 2013 Comments 0
Man U's David Moyes
Man U's David Moyes
Arsenal's Mesut Ozil shoots to score against Hull City during their English Premier League football match at Emirates Stadium in London on Wednesday. Arsenal won 2-0. - AP
Arsenal's Mesut Ozil shoots to score against Hull City during their English Premier League football match at Emirates Stadium in London on Wednesday. Arsenal won 2-0. - AP

LONDON, AP:

Manchester United have swayed from crisis to recovery in a turbulent first few months of David Moyes' tenure at Old Trafford.

A week ago, the English champions were celebrating early qualification from the group stage of the Champions League after their biggest away win in Europe in nearly 50 years. Seven days later and their Premier League title chances appear to be in tatters after a 1-0 home loss to Everton that left United in ninth place, 12 points off leader Arsenal.

With the top three of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City finding some good form, United cannot afford another slip-up at home against Newcastle on Sunday.

ROONEY OUT

United have picked up only two points from their last three matches to slip way off the pace set by Arsenal, and the frustration at the club's slide is showing on Wayne Rooney.

In the 2-2 draw at Cardiff on November 24, the England striker was fortunate to escape with a booking after kicking out at an opponent as he chased a long ball forward. Then, against Everton, he earned another yellow card for leading with his elbow on Phil Jagielka, his fifth booking of the season, leading to a suspension for this weekend.

That's a major blow for Moyes, with Rooney having been easily United's best player this season with 10 goals in all competitions. Throw in fellow striker Robin van Persie's continued absence with toe and groin injuries and United's problems in central midfield that have been exacerbated by an injury to Michael Carrick, and Moyes has problems ahead of the Newcastle game.

History in on United's side, though - Newcastle have not won in the league at Old Trafford since 1972.

BUOYANT EVERTON

After ending a 21-year wait for victory at United, is it too much to ask for Everton to secure a first win at Arsenal since 1996?

Probably, given Arsenal's recent run that has seen the team win their last four games without conceding a goal, but Everton are in good form after backing up a 4-0 victory at Stoke with that win at Old Trafford.

In Roberto Martinez, Everton have one of the country's most highly rated young managers. And he is getting the best out of a young, hungry squad. The team is currently fifth and a top-four finish is not out of the question.

"I have always felt this squad is capable of going anywhere in this league and playing teams eye-to-eye," Martinez said after beating United. "I told the boys afterwards that this gives a real indication of what can be achieved."

SUPER SUAREZ

First it was Sergio Aguero at Man City. Now it's Luis Suarez being compared to Spanish league stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by his manager after a four-goal show for Liverpool in the 5-1 thrashing of Norwich on Wednesday.

After a 45-yard volley, a sublime solo effort and then a curling free kick, it was no surprise to see Brendan Rodgers purring at the striker who wanted to leave Anfield during the off-season.

"I think you have to hold up Luis as one of the best strikers in the world," Rodgers said. "I think if you look at Messi and Ronaldo they have been out on their own for a couple of years. Luis is only 26 and I think he will make improvements to his game over the coming years."

With Daniel Sturridge out injured, Suarez will again lead the line for Liverpool in Saturday's home match against struggling West Ham. He is the league's top scorer with 13 goals, despite missing the first five matches of the campaign while he served out a suspension for biting carried over from last season.

SLIDING SOUTHAMPTON

Two weeks ago, Southampton headed to Arsenal seeking a win that could have lifted the team into first place.

After three straight defeats, Mauricio Pochettino's side is now down in eighth place and it could get worse considering in-form Man City visits St. Mary's Stadium on Saturday.

Along with Chelsea, City are leading the challenge to reel in Arsenal and found a cure to theirproblems away from home with a win at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.

Having captain Vincent Kompany back fit is also crucial to City, who have scored at least three goals in six of their last seven matches.

 

 

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