The Manchester United FC went into battle on Saturday against Norwich City FC for nothing less than their continued relevance in the Premier League standings. While they may not have established that relevance definitively, they have left no doubt that they are not going to go away quietly. Even with Wayne Rooney out of the match because of a groin strain, United was able to sneak past Norwich with a 1-0 result. An ugly win, without doubt, but manager David Moyes will clearly take the three points any way they come at this point. Saturday, they came on the foot of Danny Welbeck, substituted in at the half to support Javier Hernandez on the attack. Hernandez had been ineffective through the first half, but was able to connect with Welbeck about twelve minutes into the second half for the only goal of the match.
No club is at their best this week, with the short rest and multitude of injuries, but this would have been a terrible time for Manchester United to miss out on the chance to take three points from a Norwich team which is lingering just three points clear of the relegation zone. The divide between the top and bottom of the table is growing with every match and as the best continue to amass points, it is for those who want a chance at the end of the race to keep up now or be left behind. Winning Saturday’s battle against Norwich City FC does not put Manchester United FC at the top, but neither can they be dismissed as no longer having relevance. Manchester United will not be written off just yet. They will need a better effort on Wednesday, however, if they are going to defeat a Tottenham Hotspur FC squad that is just hitting its stride with new manager Tim Sherwood.
Moyes has indicated that Rooney is likely to play in the match on New Year’s Day, which will probably mean a better showing for Manchester United on the attack. Without a significantly better defensive effort, however, Wednesday might not go well for Moyes’ squad. Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor on the attack for Tottenham, supported by the skill of Gylfi Sigurdsson in the midfield, will undoubtedly present a more difficult challenge than Norwich City did. Manchester United cannot afford to give Tottenham the opportunities afforded to the Norwich side in the first half of Saturday’s match.
The Spurs have grown leaps and bounds in confidence since the arrival of Sherwood as manager, and will not likely miss open net opportunities like the ones missed by Wes Hoolahan and Robert Snodgrass Saturday. The Spurs are sure now that they have what it takes to challenge for the Premier League top spots. If they are able to get past a Stoke squad on Sunday that was demolished in a 5-1 loss to Newcastle on Boxing Day, they will enter the match against Manchester United even on points with them. That match-up will be a much better test than Norwich City FC provided for Manchester United FC to determine their ultimate relevance in the Premier League championship.
By Jim Malone