Could Man Utd's title tilt come unstuck against Everton again? Ed Chamberlin previews the action
Could Man Utd's title tilt come unstuck against Everton again? Ed previews the action...
Last Updated: 08/02/13 4:46pm
Man Utd were 4-2 up after 82 minutes through Wayne Rooney's double, Danny Welbeck and Nani, before Everton claimed a point with late goals from Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar. It proved costly. The two dropped points left United three points ahead of Man City with three games to go and we all know what happened from there.
United went in to that game at Old Trafford long odds on to win the title and go in to Super Sunday's game 1/10 to be crowned champions. Surely history can't repeat itself?
United have now won 62 points - the most they have ever won at this stage of a season and it is 10 years since the side top on February 1 has failed to win the title, which was Arsenal in 2002/03.
Sky Bet's Premier League Title odds: 1/10 Man Utd, 6/1 Man City, 100/1 Chelsea, 250/1 bar
Man Utd (8/13 with Sky Bet to win on Sunday) have a superb record against Everton (4/1) in the Premier League beating them 29 times - a joint-best total as they also have 29 wins against Tottenham - and scored more goals against Everton (82) than against any other club.
Everton's only win was Man Utd's first ever Premier League game at Old Trafford - 3-0 in August 1992.
However, Everton have fared much better of late because as well as the 4-4 thriller last season, they won 1-0 when the sides met on the opening weekend of the season on Monday Night Football and are aiming to complete a League double over United for the first time since August 1969.
Marouane Fellaini scored the only goal in August and was a massive thorn in United's side in both games. He was almost unplayable at Goodison in August and United could not handle him.
Worryingly for Everton he's a doubt for the game with a hip problem and his availability will play a big part in the outcome. If he plays, he can give United's back four another torrid time and it will be fascinating to see the plan Sir Alex comes up with to deal with him.
Before the game at Old Trafford we have Aston Villa (6/4) v West Ham (7/4) live from Villa Park.
This is such an important game for Paul Lambert's side, who are 4/7 with Sky Bet to be relegated.
The home side will have a similar problem to United as Everton's strikers bullied Villa's central defenders at times last week and they now have to deal with Andy Carroll, who looked a real handful against Swansea. We start at 1pm on Sky Sports 1 HD.
Manchester will dominate my weekend as I'll be at St Mary's on Saturday evening to watch Southampton (9/2) against Manchester City (4/7) before travelling north to present Super Sunday at Old Trafford.
Saints suffered heartbreak on the opening weekend at the Etihad on the first Super Sunday of the season. The home fans will fancy their chances of getting something against the champions as they have started very brightly under Mauricio Pochettino.
City will be desperate to close the gap at the top to six points but Sky Bet's price on the draw (3/1) makes some appeal.
Southampton haven't won under the new boss yet but have played with real energy and the pressing, high tempo game that the Argentinian favours. Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw tend to get the headlines but for me Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin have been outstanding in central midfield.
Southampton have looked a different side since Cork returned from injury after the team had conceded 29 goals in the first 11 games. Schneiderlin has been a key figure at St Mary's for a long time now but has been under the radar. He makes the side tick and is starting to get the recognition he deserves.
I wrote last week about how the Champion Hurdle was shaping up like a classic renewal and the hardest Grade One puzzle to solve at the Cheltenham Festival.
That now has a hollow feel to it after the tragic loss of Darlan at Doncaster on Monday afternoon. It's desperately sad to lose any horse, from a top-notcher to a point-to-pointer, but anyone who has read this column over the last two seasons will know how special AP McCoy thought Darlan was. The champion jockey was inconsolable.
Darlan took a similarly nasty fall in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last year. I would love it if My Tent Or Yours could win the race on Saturday for JP McManus, Nicky Henderson and AP McCoy. The latter gave Darlan as his horse for us to follow last season and went with My Tent Or Yours at the start of this term.
He's seriously talented but the handicapper seems determined to make life harder of novices in this contest and has My Tent Or Yours on a mark of 149, which is 3lbs higher than Darlan in this race last year. He will surely run well but the hype around him and his trainer's record in the race, means My Tent Or Yours could go off a crazy price in a red hot race.
I like the chance of his stablemate Cash And Go. Very promising when trained by Eddie O'Grady in Ireland last season winning the Future Champions Hurdle at Leopardstown, Cash And Go made an excellent start for Henderson when second in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November. I then fancied him to run a big race at Ascot in December but he unseated early on. Cash And Go has been saved for this and looks a decent each-way bet at 10/1.
If the ground dries out to good-to-soft or better, which is not impossible, keep a close eye on Claret Cloak. The Emma Lavelle team think a lot of this horse.
Talking of hype, Simonsig is being talked about as the next big thing and gets another chance to impress over fences in the Game Spirit. He's been foot perfect so far and has looked like a superstar. I just have a nagging question about what he will find under pressure. After all, he was out-battled by Fingal Bay up the Sandown hill last season. He's yet to be put under any kind of pressure over fences and I doubt he will be on Saturday. Overturn certainly will in the Arkle.
There will be Cheltenham clues all over the place this weekend with brilliant cards at Newbury and Leopardstown, which has been moved from Sunday because of the rugby. I've backed Un Atout to win the Supreme at 7/1 with Sky Bet so hope he impresses again in the Deloitte.
A big part of me wants Flemenstar to run a blinder in the Irish Hennessy but not quite stay. I think he's a machine but badly want to see Flemenstar v Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase.
With the likes of Boston Bob, Silviniaco Conti, Our Conor, Our Father and River Maigue also in action it promises to be a brilliant and informative weekend.