Three reasons why it’s time to back Man Utd for the title
Manchester United can still be backed at 9/2 to retain the Premier League title after their battling 1-0 win at home to top-flight pacesetters Arsenal.
This price is unlikely to stay around for long, with David Moyes’ charges beginning to show the kind of form and resolve that saw them crowned champions with four games to go last season.
Fit-again Robin van Persie has hit a rich vein of form and looks back to his brilliant best
The Netherlands’ record goalscorer and former Arsenal favourite celebrated like a man possessed after his winning goal against the Gunners, which showed just what his 27th-minute header meant to the red half of Manchester.
Two of United’s three Premier League defeats this season have occurred when the 30-year-old was not deemed fit enough for a place in the starting lineup, including the 4-1 shellacking at the hands of Man City.
The champions’ improved recent form directly correlates with their number one striker’s increased availability and the Dutchman has now scored in each of his side’s last four Premier League outings, which United took the maximum 12 points from.
Van Persie’s league-leading haul of 26 goals in 2012/13 was the single biggest factor in United’s successful title tilt and now he’s back in peak condition, Premier League defences beware.
Moyes has sorted out United’s leaky defence and they have conceded just once in their last four games
Rio Ferdinand will go down in history as one of Man Utd and England’s best ever centre-halves, but the 35-year-old was found wanting in the defeats to City and West Brom and it seems the former Three Lions captain’s best days are far behind him.
Ferdinand has not played in the Premier League since the 2-1 loss at home to the Baggies, with Moyes preferring to pair either Nemanja Vidic or Phil Jones next to Jonny Evans in the centre of defence.
Former Blackburn stopper Jones has arguably been United’s most impressive defender this term and coped admirably against Arsenal when asked to drop into the back four, after impressing in the holding-midfield role for the first 45 minutes.
Chris Smalling also put jittery recent performances at right-back against Manuel Pellegrini’s men and Stoke behind him to keep Aaron Ramsey quiet at Old Trafford.
The champions have a relatively easy run of fixtures between now and the new year
When Premier League football resumes after the international break, United travel first to Cardiff and then to north London to face a Spurs side that have lost two of their last three top-flight home games and have only won two of their last six in all competitions at White Hart Lane.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side head north for the reverse fixture on New Year’s day, but in the meantime Moyes’ men host Newcastle, Everton and West Ham, who were all beaten by the champions at Old Trafford in 2012/13.
Visits to bottom-half teams Aston Villa, Hull and Norwich before the end of the year should yield plenty of points for improving United.
Arsenal must travel to Man City and host Chelsea between now and Christmas, while Liverpool have a tough run of away games against Spurs, City and the Blues still to come in 2013.