It has been a great season for Manchester United as they lead Manchester City by 12 points at the top of the Barclays Premier League and are sure to have their names engraved on the league trophy once again.
There have been ups and there have been downs – but there have been a few games that stick out as defining moments in United’s season so far.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United (23 September 2012)
United had a decent start to the opening four games of the season and had won three but then came upon a daunting task of Anfield. With the Hillsborough revelations during the week placing an extra emphasis on the fixture at Anfield, a place United had not won since 2007, the odds were stacked against us.
United were on the back foot all game even with Liverpool down to ten men after midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was sent off. The inevitable happened soon after the second half restart when Steven Gerrard opened the scoring and United didn’t look like winning. They were letting Liverpool play into them and were not threatening.
That is, before Rafael scored a fantastic equaliser and Valencia earned a penalty late on which van Persie duly converted.
This was a huge game for United and the three points sent them second within one point of the ‘unbeaten’ Chelsea.
Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United (28 October 2012)
Chelsea were doing very well in the league at the time. They had yet to lose a game and were four points clear of second placed United in the league. United then had to go to Stamford Bridge and attempt to win in a place they had failed to so in the league since 2002. But United, trying to close down the gap in the title race had to go all out and couldn’t afford a loss or a draw and let Chelsea continue to fly in the league.
United went and attacked from the very start and van Persie caused a David Luiz own goal a few minutes into the game. Not long later, he converted an Antonio Valencia inch-perfect low cross. Scoring too early allowed Chelsea back into the game as Juan Mata and Ramires pulled the game back to 2-2. Chelsea later went down to 9 men and United had to take advantage – Hernandez did and United emerged victorious for the first time in a decade at Stamford Bridge.
That victory against Chelsea, a team whom were elected favourites to win the league, closed the gap to one point and also saw the start of Chelsea’s bad run of form that saw them kicked out of the Champions League group stage.
Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United (9 December 2012)
A derby game against City is always big. United lost both last year and Sir Alex would have none of it this time around. The previous game we had beaten Reading 4-3, coming from behind various time to win a match full of appalling defending. United were three points clear at the top and if they were to lose would drop to second due to City’s superior goal difference.
United started very well and Rooney slotted home past Joe Hart before a lovely cross by Rafael led to a quick-fire brace from Rooney with his 150th goal for United. We dominated City and should of been 3-0 up in Young’s unjustly disallowed offside goal stood.
Unfortunately, United let City back into the match as they pulled it back to 2-2 through Yaya Toure and Zabaleta late on.
Then van Persie stamped his mark on his derby debut with an injury time free-kick to clinch it.
This game set United on their way for the rest of the league as City were to be behind and stay behind, drifting futher and further away after this defeat.
Manchester United 2-0 Everton (10 February 2013)
United were 12 points clear. They had to play Real Madrid soon after and were planning on playing a weakened team to rest the stars for the Champions League clash. However – Sir Alex was gifted by City’s 3-1 loss to Southampton and United took full advantage of this as a 2-1 win, thanks to goals from Giggs and van Persie, saw off the Everton threat.
This was especially important as it separates last year from this year when we slipped up at Everton. This season around there was no hint of complacency.