MUFO - Big 4 Falter at the Top - United vs. Aston Villa result
By Andrew Cuff
Sunday 23 Nov 2008 15:36:00
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Liverpool were hosts to Fulham at Anfield and the table leaders needed to secure a solitary point more that Chelsea to be clear favourite for the title. Liverpool as expected attacked the Fulham goal long and hard but Fulham managed to secure a well fought draw leaving them on equal points with Middlesbrough but still have their match against United in hand so currently lie 9th in the table. Robbie Keane came closest to scoring but his shot was directed straight at Schwarzer who duly saved Fulham.

Newcastle travelled south to take on Chelsea. Chelsea have had a dream start to the season with a solitary loss to date and tied at the top with Liverpool, seeking any advantage to take control of the Premier League, but Newcastle who have had a disastrous start to the season managed somehow to keep Chelsea out of their goal. Chelsea who were far from at their best managed a heavy onslaught and managed to create enough chances to beat the Northern team, but thanks to Shay Given and some favourable referee choices both teams went home without a goal and a solitary point.

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Arsenal, who lost last weekend to Aston Villa by a single goal, travelled north to take on Manchester City. Arsenal who have had a turbulent week with Gallas being dropped after his comments and Walcott sent home injured from England’s friendly did not have a positive outlook to start with though against a team who have only won 1 game in 5 outings Arsenal were still favourites to take home the points. Manchester City though had other ideas, scoring just before half time through Stephen Ireland and then Rubinho scored in the 56th minute and to make things worse for the visitors, Sturridge slotted a third goal home from the penalty spot after being fouled.

United hosted Aston Villa who last weekend toppled Arsenal. This was a unique opportunity for United who have won their last 11 games against Aston Villa, not lost for over a decade and with both the table leaders drawing their matches United could close the gap at the top. However Aston Villa had other ideas, and came out with an all out defensive team, playing 4-5-1- and the back four were well supported by the midfield five often allowing two or three players to mark one of United’s players. Ronaldo was effectively shut down by Reo-Coker time and time again, though his play acting seemed far over the top; I feel Ronaldo was showing extreme signs of fatigue especially after Portugal’s 6-2 loss during the week and the long trip back from South America. All this culminated into him being substituted and now missing the midweek clash against Villarreal. United dominated possession though failed to created enough good chances, Park came closest with two attempts in under a minute one which was hit wide and a cross into the goal which was a few inches to far ahead of the winger. Ferdinand managed to play despite being a doubt after a back injury forced him out of the England squad and O’Shea played at right back which means we are likely to see Gary Neville play the mid week clash.

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A day to marked in the history books after all four big teams failed to score the first time since 1993 that the big four clubs failed to score. United still lie 8 points behind the leaders with only 3 points separating United, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Hull City. There is no chance for a slip from United against rivals Manchester City next weekend as the Manchester Derby takes place at the City of Manchester stadium.

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