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We’re reaching a great time in the season and as far as the title goes, it’s less squeaky bum than it has been. Things could have been very different if it hadn’t gone our way last weekend. Going down 2-0 away to West Ham in an early kick-off, with games against Arsenal and Chelsea still to come, sparked the fears that our excellent home form wasn’t going to be good enough to compensate for our poor performances and results on the road. I tried to block out memories of Goodison Park from 2007, the day that felt like the title was definitely ours, knowing that I was probably just teasing myself with an impossible scenario. But then we go and do it. A 14 minute hattrick from Wayne Rooney, with a tap-in from Chicharito to seal the deal, left us 4-2 and incredible sense of self-belief.
There has been lots of criticism of our squad this season, from United fans as much as anyone else, but what has to be noted is the incredible mental strength this team has. Sir Alex Ferguson is currently serving a touchline ban, so whilst we don’t see him down there too often these days anyway, when we’re in need of a result and things aren’t going our way, he will be there, barking out instructions. Against Bolton in the game before, it was 0-0, with fifteen minutes left to play we went down to ten men, and without our manager on the sidelines urging them on, Berbatov popped up with a winner with two minutes to go. We saw an even more impressive come back against West Ham. Our players are winners and this has made the world of difference to our season.
Our rivals dropped points last weekend and may do again this weekend, so it’s up to us to keep winning the easier games, so the tougher games, like Arsenal away and Chelsea at home, matter less. Our closest title challengers, Arsenal, currently have a game in hand on us and are 7 points behind. Their game in hand is in 10 days and it’s at White Hart Lane. Of all the games we could pick for them to be their game in hand, this would probably be it. A local derby away from home. If we can keep the difference at the top until then to at least 7 points, we’re laughing.
So, we’ve got Fulham today and we’ve got to make our great comeback games worth it. Fortunately, we rested a few key players three days ago for our victory over Chelsea, meaning a fresh Berbatov and Nani should start. We could also see Scholes in the starting line-up, who didn’t even get at run out at Stamford Bridge. Anderson might make his return from injury, after an impressive display for the Reserves against City on Thursday, whilst Wes Brown and John O’Shea will be back fighting with Fabio for Rafael’s spot in the starting team, after he was stretchered off midweek.
With an already impressive home record of 14 wins from 15, Fulham are a great side to be playing at Old Trafford, with own Wolves and Stoke picking up fewer points than them on the road this season. We’ve got big games ahead but you would like to think our lads are professional and dedicated enough to take it one match at a time at the moment, and get the result today to pave the way for the massive games next week against Chelsea and City.
Come on reds!
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