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Fergie’s smile spells trouble for Premier League title rivals
When Alex Ferguson declares he is happy with his squad for the season remainder, it is time for Manchester United’s Premier League title rivals to start worrying.
The busy Christmas and New Year period is often important in the Premier League, as fringe players are called upon to help negotiate a sea of fixtures which put managers under increasing pressure.
With the worst of it now over, United are beginning to emerge from the pack.
Their recent wins over West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City might not have oozed confidence or screamed ‘champions’ but the results will have worried Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Ferguson rested some key players in both victories, instead letting the likes of Tomasz Kuszczak, Gabriel Obertan, Darron Gibson and Javier Hernandez stretch their legs.
After having his faith repaid with United top after 20 games, he has no doubt raised a smile at fifth-placed Chelsea’s stuttering form and Arsene Wenger’s attempt at squad rotation resulting in third-placed Arsenal coming unstuck with a draw at Wigan Athletic.
Wenger’s decision to make eight changes to the side that beat Chelsea proved fruitless and raised questions as to their strength in depth. They remain a force, but when Wenger tries to tinker, the cracks in his squad can still be seen.
Second-placed Manchester City have kept things ticking over on the pitch but off it team mates continue to squabble, according to reports.
Chelsea, meanwhile, continue to wobble having won just once in their last eight league games.
Boss Carlo Ancelotti’s remarks this week over Champions League qualification being the main aim will also have been music to Ferguson’s ears.
There is of course still a long way to go this season and many more pivotal moments to come; starting with City’s visit to Arsenal on Wednesday.
However, with Wenger, Ferguson and Ancelotti unlikely to sign anyone of first team note, the time to judge their squads and subsequent title credentials is now. City on the other hand, can still shake things up as their chequebook remains firmly open – starting with VfL Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko.