Man United on verge of league title
Vail, CO Colorado
MANCHESTER, England ” Job well done. Well, not quite yet for Manchester United.
After rallying to beat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday, Man United’s players embraced each other and pumped their fists in celebration. They already have the look of champions.
The Red Devils could make it official by the time they return to Old Trafford against West Ham on May 5 after extending their Premier League lead to five points, after Chelsea’s tie with Wigan on Monday.
“If we win the next (two) games we will win the league ” as simple as that,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “We’ve got over a nervous day. That was a big, big game ” and we’ve come through it.”
Ferguson said it was tough to watch.
“They were the better team (in the first half),” said Ferguson, who has already led United to nine league titles. “I thought we were a bit nervous, our passing was poor. I couldn’t wait to get to halftime.
“There was always going to be a part for (Carlos) Tevez and Anderson to play, and when Arsenal scored it forced my hand. And we were fantastic after that.”
Arsenal was rewarded for dominating the first half when Emmanuel Adebayor exploited a defensive lapse to bundle the ball over the line in the 48th minute. But six minutes later, William Gallas handled in the box and Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot.
“We have not many times been a goal down at home, but we came back,” center back Rio Ferdinand said. “We showed pure grit and determination and a great team ethic.
“We were maybe fortunate with the penalty, but in the second half we looked more like scoring.”
Owen Hargreaves then scored with a curling free kick in the 72nd minute, reducing the specialist Ronaldo to the role of witness, as Arsenal’s faint title hopes were finally extinguished.
“That was a good distance for me, so I didn’t ask him,” Hargreaves said of Ronaldo. “Arsenal were the better team in the first half, but we had chances too. We needed to tighten up and we did.”
Man United is close to its 17th English league title ” within one of Liverpool’s record.
United is at Blackburn on Saturday and then travels to Chelsea on April 26, but the Blues play twice this week ” also at Everton on Thursday.
Chelsea and United will have first-leg matches in the Champions League semifinals before then.
“If we win every game, I think we will win the title,” Chelsea manager Avram Grant said. “But it’s not easy to win all the games.”