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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Have City knocked United off their perch?

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was quick to say that his team’s 6-1 mauling of arch-rivals United meant little more than another three points in the bag, but the Italian must surely be hoping it could signal a shift in the balance of power.

Having knocked Liverpool off their perch when they won a record 19th league title last season, United now face the prospect of playing second fiddle to City in England and Manchester, should their heaviest defeat to their neighbours in 56 years prove to be more than just a temporary setback.

Ferguson and several pundits wasted no time in pointing out United were undone after central defender Jonny Evans was sent off for a professional foul early in the second half.

But City were already on top at that point and earned their extra man on the pitch by carving United open with a defence-splitting pass -- which left Evans only with the alternative of letting Mario Balotelli run through on goal.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Treble? Manchester United’s season could still collapse

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Strong belief in emulating the 1999 treble must surely be gripping Old Trafford after Manchester United’s somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win at Chelsea in their Champions League quarter-final first leg, but Alex Ferguson and his troops will also be aware they are still a long way from crossing the finish line first in any competition.

With Wayne Rooney losing his appeal to have a two-game ban reduced and the ever-present threat of injuries crippling a squad well short of the talent of the 1999 crop,  United will once again have to dig deep into their resources as the strength-sapping season reaches its climax.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Rooney wonder strike could make United’s season

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Wayne Rooney said it was his greatest goal and Alex Ferguson said he had never seen anything like it. Even opposition manager Roberto Mancini had to applaud.

So many times you see players fall flat on their faces as they attempt an overhead wonder goal but any smirks that might have been rising as Rooney embarked on what looked like mission impossible were quickly replaced by utter disbelief at Old Trafford on Sunday.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Bosnian diamond Dzeko could turn City’s fortunes

SOCCER-ENGLAND/CITY-DZEKOIf Edin Dzeko can adapt seamlessly to the Premier League's high-tempo game, the blue half of Manchester may at long last get the trophy they have craved since 1968, when City won their last top-flight title.

With Carlos Tevez having a punishing workload up front for Roberto Mancini's side as the lone striker in a 4-3-2-1 formation, Dzeko appears to be just what City need to start firing on all cylinders.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Fergie’s smile spells trouble for Premier League title rivals

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/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.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

What next for pampered players — overcoats?

ISOCCER-ENGLAND blame the late, great Keith Weller of Leicester City.

He started the trend for "cold-weather clothing" when he pulled on a pair of white tights one winter's day in the 1970s.

He did not know it at the time, but that began the wimpish drift towards gloves, hats and now the ridiculous snoods, or neck warmers, being worn by the likes of Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, and most fetchingly, Marouane Chamakh of Arsenal in the last few weeks.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

A sense of deja-vu for Man City

SOCCER-ENGLANDA sense of deja-vu is sweeping Eastlands after Manchester City's lame surrender against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday re-opened the cracks in the club's glittering facade.

Manager Roberto Mancini has unrivalled spending power in English football but, just like Mark Hughes who he replaced nearly a year ago, is realising that there is one vital ingredient money cannot buy -- team harmony.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Will Rooney’s departure signal United’s decline?

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Wayne Rooney's demand for a move away from Manchester United has stunned manager Alex Ferguson, especially given the striker's poor form and support the club have given him through personal problems.

After winning three successive Premier League titles with United and the 2008 Champions League, Rooney enjoyed his best personal season with the club in 2009-10 -- when his impressive tally of 34 goals in all competitions was only enough to bring  the League Cup to Old Trafford.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Can you out-predict Reuters Soccer Blog?

It's that time of the week again, folks. The best brains at Reuters Soccer Blog are off, so it's just the usual crew of no-hopers here to embarrass ourselves trying to predict the outcome of the weekend Premier League action, and with no help from that lottery bobbins bloke.

To recap: with one point available for getting a correct result -- and make that a whopping five for the correct score -- there are at least 50 points up for grabs each week. Given that most teams have played five matches the total number of points a perfect tipster would have got by now would be well over 200.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Everton win saves panel from being banished to the stands

Very few of our panel should be enjoying their English Bank Holiday Monday. Most must hang their heads in shame.

Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal was an eventful game to say the least, with a penalty, bizarre own goal, a late strike disallowed for offside and Arsene Wenger harshly being sent to the stands where he didn't have a seat.

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