Beating Manchester City doesn't make you Premier League champions

After the Red Devils' memorable win at the Etihad Stadium, Singapore Chief Editor Bhas Kunju weighs his thoughts on the actual significance of the match
By Bhas Kunju


Congratulations. Manchester United's voodoo was at it again. Another late winner to turn a match they were slated to draw (or even lose) into a momentous victory. Or was it?

Robin Van Persie's injury time winner sealed a 3-2 win over Manchester City when a draw looked to be on the cards, and that was the fourth league match this season that the Red Devils have won with a goal scored in the last ten minutes of play.

The rest came against Southampton (3-2), Liverpool (2-1) and Aston Villa (3-2).

Well kudos for the massive dose of luck that never fails to abandon the team from Salford, although the world will still never stop hearing the endless cries of injustice should a call or a play ever go against them, because apparently all other teams in the world have everything go their way.

As much as it was an entertaining match to watch as a neutral spectator, the shrieks from the Manchester United fan boys and fan girls alike when Arsenal prodigy Van Persie bulged the net with his free-kick simply was too irksome to ignore.

Pardon me for not sharing the enthusiasm of a derby win I do not care about but neither should anyone not actually from Manchester, regardless of how many decades of servitude you have given your beloved Manchester United.

So what other importance was there for this match? Apart from ending City's nearly two-year long unbeatean home run, nothing actually. Unless you count Everton boy wonder Rooney's second double in a week.

Simply put, beating Manchester City alone will not make you the League champions. It'll make a nice diary entry but that's about it.

There are 22 matches to go and the league does not end in December. If it did, the likes of Newcastle, Aston Villa and Liverpool would have Premier League titles in their trophy cabinet by now.

The real shape of the title race only starts to show when the Champions League goes into full gear, and that is beyond the group stage. It is no surprise that the teams that struggle in the Premier League are the ones who have commitments in Europe.

Last year Manchester United were humiliated, first by getting dumped at the group stages of Europe's premier competition and then again by Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League. (Just to point out Bilbao finished tenth in a mediocre La Liga, with an equally mediocre record of 12 wins, 13 draws and 13 losses).

Manchester City were dumped from Europe too, and incidentally the two teams that carried on the title race back home were City and the aforementioned United.

Arsenal and Chelsea fell out of the race as they progressed in Europe and the Blues' Champions League win came at the price of finishing sixth in the league.

This year City have no further European commitments, Chelsea will weigh their options in the Europa League, while Manchester United and Arsenal will continue to bear the English torch in the Champions League.

As the squads gets stretched and the fixtures start piling up entering 2013, the true shape of the title race will start to show.

So the six point lead Manchester United has right now really amounts to nothing significant. Around this time last year, City had a five point lead over Manchester United and we can all still remember the very memorable end to the season when it eventually came down to goal difference.

Sergio Aguero's 94th minute winner meant that for the first time ever a team from Manchester won the Premier League title.

EDIT at 1209pm SGT Dec 10: 'Unless you count Everton boy wonder Rooney's second double in a week.'

Bhas: Penalty goals really shouldn't be counted..

Sub: Sorry boss, a goal is a goal..