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With Results Going Our Way, Saturday Was A Great Day For United Fans

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Saturday 3rd November 2012, lunchtime kick off and Arsenal at Old Trafford with Chelsea following at Swansea where they have the chance to get over the controversial loss of last weekend. Then Manchester City at the Hammers.

This is what it means to be a fan.

Pre-game words between little Roberto De Matteo about Sir Alex Ferguson pointing out the Chelsea Ref attack is not believable added fuel and the spark of Arsenal fans chanting anti-Robin van Persie songs set the scene at OT.

Barley 3 minutes in, it’s over. What followed was a bizarre series of misses by Manchester United as Arsenal never started and 8 yellow cards plus a red in a game of few tackles that plodded through 90 minutes of boring football, left me wondering why I woke at 5:30am out here in California only to struggle to stay awake during the game.

Yes we are top of the league again but the performances of Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young were really poor. Add to that the entire Arsenal outfield 10 and you have 14 of the 22 players coasting thru a low quality game that let down the hostile rivalry between these two clubs.

Yes – Arsenals worst ever start in the Premier League is testimony to a team that has slipped out of the top 4 teams and leaves them heading towards Liverpool, as Spurs do an Everton on them and replace them in their own City.

But United really did nothing to build on last weeks strong performance except win. And for that I am grateful. Beating Chelsea and Arsenal should suggest we are on fire but we are not.

What followed in Swansea was even stranger. Chelsea played in horrendous weather conditions but were just as poor as Arsenal. The first half was awful, almost no goal threat, poor in possession and sloppy in defence. Then they scored and I thought they’d kick on but no, they tried to defend the lead and just collapsed back into their own goal. Pablo Hernandez was excellent on the left wing for the Swans and when he scored it was no less than Swansea deserved. A poor game with a fair result.

So United regained their position at the top of the table with City given the chance to beat a developing West Ham team coming up.

Pre-game City’s decision to rest Sergio Aguero, restore Eden Dzeko, only to see James Milner pull up in pregame warm up with a pulled hamstring only added intrigue to the bizarre admission by Roberto Mancini that he almost left City in the run-in last year and he appears to be talking to other Clubs about leaving now, as Barcelona executives join the back room staff at City does suggest Pep Guardiola is joining them soon, because City’s European dream seems to be in tatters again this year.

November 3rd 2012, Remembrance Day pause before the game, 8 days before the due date also left me checking the calendar. Did I dream that ? Bizarre Saturday continues.

Then West Ham score, great goal…..and it’s given offside.

Add to that the Luis Suarez error, the Hernandez error and now this. A week where the officials are dominating the headlines, and certainly are influencing results more than the players are doing.

And so the last of the top 3 played out the more entertaining of the games in which they were involved. West Ham spearheaded by Andy Carroll, who hasn’t score in the Premier League since April laboured as City missed chances galore – Mario Balotelli, Dzeko and Gareth Barry missed sitters. Balotelli withdrawn on 70 minutes of a poor performance replaced by Aguero, and City laboured to try to beat a workmanlike West Ham, playing in true Sam Allardyce style.

Carroll departed on 80 minutes, proving Liverpool are missing nothing by loaning their bludgeon to the Hammers. City continued to turn up the heat as Tevez and Aguero always work well together, Aguero (probably rested for the Ajax game coming up midweek), tested the keeper regularly but with 10 minutes to go it remained stalemate.

City played the entire game with Samir Nasri in central midfield and that really didn’t work, their lack of width meant they continually played into a crowd hoping for a bounce or a break to get in a strike.

With minutes to go City switch Nasri wide, withdraw Carlos Tevez, and use the wing for the first time. But it’s ended goalless.

Listless, tactically naive and ultimately fruitless was City’s trip to London.

So the weekend proved a few things.

1) Arsenal are poor

2) United can win this league

3) City’s managerial change is needed

4) Chelsea are their own worst enemies

5) Refereeing is poor and bad decisions, and inconsistency abound

It was a good weekend to be a United fan.

By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve

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