EPL Results: Manchester City Outclass Man United as Arsenal Suffer Another Blow
By Deepak Vikraman | March 26, 2014 3:05 PM EST
It was not surprising, it was not standing-up-from-your-seat-and-watching-on-in-disbelief; instead there was an unerring familiarity to it all as yet another big team completely outclassed reigning English Premier League champions Manchester United.
This time it was their crosstown rivals Manchester City, who from minute one, controlled the proceedings and looked like they were playing little boys with little clue on what to do in front of their own fans at Old Trafford.
City's comprehensive 3-0 win means they are now just three points behind leaders Chelsea, with a couple of games in hand, while United languish in seventh, a full 15 points behind their Mancunian rivals, having played two games more.
The moment Edin Dzeko scored the opening goal, in the 42nd second of the match, the epitaph was written. There would be a further goal from Dzeko, early in the second half, with that incomparable midfield man Yaya Toure adding the gloss right at the end to hand David Moyes' United yet another humiliating defeat.
There has always been an inevitability about how United play under Moyes this season, barring a few exceptions, and the moment City took forth on the pitch, you could feel that gulf in class. The opening goal came via Dezko as the striker struck home from close range after Samir Nasri's initial effort came off the post.
Moyes' strategy to nullify City's powerful midfield by adding another central midfielder - and that too Tom Cleverley of all people -- seemed to only play into City's hands, as the away team made merry on the wings, with Jesus Navas, particularly, enjoying himself against Patrice Evra.
The Spanish winger has blown hot and cold all season, but on Tuesday night he was menacing, and almost every time he received the ball on City's right looked threatening.
United huffed and puffed on occasion, with Wayne Rooney, scorer of that wonder goal against West Ham on Saturday, coming close, but really the City house never even remotely looked like breaking down.
Manuel Pellegrini's men could have gone into halftime with a bigger lead, and should have been a man up as well, after Marouane Fellaini, again looking out of his depth in a United shirt, was extremely lucky not to get a straight red card for an ugly elbow on Pablo Zabaleta in the 40th minute.
David Silva was the chief orchestrator of the City symphony, with the City fans acting as backup singers, taunting their rivals throughout the 90 minutes, while calling for Moyes to stay on for "five more years", just as the home team's supporters, slowly but surely getting fed up by the drab football and the lack of results, started asking for the former Everton manager's head to roll.
That feeling only intensified when Dzeko made it 2-0 on 56 minutes, volleying home off a Samir Nasri corner after Rio Ferdinand, back in the lineup, ran into Fellaini while trying to cover the City striker.
With the match done and dusted, City went down a couple of gears but still had enough in them to add the icing in the final minute via a 16-yard effort from Toure.
At the Emirates, that oh-so-familiar sinking feeling came bursting out in large colours as a Mathieu Flamini own goal in the 90th minute handed Swansea a 2-2 draw.
Still reeling from the 6-0 thumping at Chelsea on Saturday, Arsenal had put themselves in a good position to take a precious three points after fighting their way back from a goal down, courtesy an inspired performance from substitute Lukas Podolski.
Wilfried Bony had given Swansea the lead in just the 11th minute, powerfully heading home off a cross from Neil Taylor, with the moans and groans at the Emirates, as the fans envisaged another capitulation, increasing as time wore on.
However, Podolski's inclusion seemed to do the trick for the Gunners, as the home side turned the game around in the space of a minute. Podolski first equalised for Arsenal in the 73rd minute nicely side-footing the ball into the back of the net off a cut-back from Kieran Gibbs, before providing the cross for Olivier Giroud to fire home what seemed would be the winner a minute later.
However, fate just does not seem to want to keep Arsenal happy at the moment, as Swansea equalised in the most bizarre fashion. Leon Britton's shot was blocked by Per Mertesacker, with the ball bouncing off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny before then ricocheting off Flamini to nestle into the net.
Swansea were left incensed at the final whistle as referee Lee Probert brought the match to an end just when Jonathan De Guzman looked poised to land the final killer blow as the midfielder was sent clear behind the Arsenal defence - but for the home side, the damage, in terms of their fading hopes of challenging for the title, had been done.
At St. James' Park, Everton pulled to within six points of fourth-placed Arsenal with an authoritative 3-0 victory over Newcastle, with the opening goal from Ross Barkley, a wonderful solo effort, the pick of the bunch.
Everton can move to within three points of the Gunners if they take maximum points from their game in hand, as Arsene Wenger's men yet again look destined to fight for a fourth-place finish when for much of the season, it looked like the title could very well be theirs.
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