Manchester United’s shock loss against Wigan and Manchester City’s 4-0 victory over West Brom made for quite the evening in the Premiership. For the past few weeks, Manchester United had been performing extremely well under the pressure of the league while Manchester City had been underperforming.
United played an incredibly mediocre match today. It seemed as though their players weren’t really interested in winning, giving Wigan a deserved 1-nil victory. Every team can have an off-match, but this is not the time for Manchester United. They’ve historically been phenomenally successful at the end of the season, but the unexpected happened today against Wigan–they were average.
Manchester City, on the other hand, played an excellent match tonight. Sergio Aguero was exceptional. After an injury and a quiet match against Arsenal, Aguero found his rhythm again, and the whole team benefited. Certainly, a goal in the sixth minute helps any team breathe a bit easier, but Aguero lifted their spirits.
His swagger returned against West Brom and with that, the whole team found a way back to the form that we’ve had the pleasure of seeing all season. Not only did he score two goals but also Aguero became a provider for his countryman, Carlos Tevez, as well as David Silva. Silva hasn’t been himself as of late, but this match seemed to turn things around. Perhaps all City needed was to lose Mario Balotelli.
They played better tonight than at any point in the past three weeks, and part of that may have been due to losing a polarizing figure in Balotelli, who has alienated teammates on and off the pitch. I think this victory will pull City out of its funk and initiate a brilliant finish.
After the match, Roberto Mancini stated that the title race is still finished, but I’m sure he’s only saying that to hedge his bets and deflect pressure from his team. With four points between the two teams from Manchester, the title race is certainly on, particularly with the derby to play.
United cannot afford to slip up again, and even though they have a history of stumbling against the lower ranked clubs, Wigan is not a loss I would have predicted. I still anticipate Sunderland to be a potential upset for United, and again, the derby will be huge.
The title is in United’s hands, but City is putting the pressure back on. Neither team can stand another loss although the past few games have shown that both teams are finding ways to mess up. It’s moments like these when I wonder who wants to win more. United played questionably today. For everyone to drop a level in their play is unacceptable at this stage. City has similarly underperformed the past couple of weeks.
It won’t really come down to who wants it more. Both teams obviously care although they’ve had some surprising losses and draws that make you wonder if they thought they could afford to let their level drop off. That can’t happen again, though. Their competition is too good, and they should care too much to let any points slip away from them.
Pressure can define you, and the four points that separate Manchester United and Manchester City now will create the stress to define their seasons. I think it will all come down to the Manchester Derby. City will have the advantage being at home, but all that really matters is who can live up to the pressure better. The Premiership still appears to be up for grabs, so…who wants it?