The Barclay’s Premier League has been in full swing for six weeks now, and the table is finally starting to shape up. It comes as little surprise that the two teams sitting atop the league are none other than Manchester United and Manchester City, with Chelsea nipping at their heels.
It is admittedly very early in the season, but both Manchester United and Manchester City have the personnel and the drive to make this the year of Manchester.
Terrific attacking firepower has put them at the top. The only three players in the Premier League with more than five goals play for one of the two teams from Manchester: are Wayne Rooney of Manchester United with nine goals, and Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko of Manchester City have eight and six goals, respectively. This translates to a goal difference of 17 for United and 14 for City – incredibly impressive when compared to that of third place Chelsea (five).
The route to the top was very different for the two teams. After winning the Premier League and finishing second in the Champions League last season, Manchester United was fairly quiet on the transfer market. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a living legend at United, stuck with what had served him well in the past – developing young talent and striking a classic balance of youth and experience. He did bring in three new signings of note, though – David De Gea to replace the retiring Edwin van der Saar, Phil Jones to provide some support in the back, and the agile winger Ashley Young to provide some width.
Meanwhile, enigmatic Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini decided to spend the summer throwing around cash, signing the electrifying Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid and the talented French midfielder Samir Nasri from Arsenal. When combined with a deal for Gael Clichy from Arsenal and a signing of Stefan Savic from the Serbian team Partizan Belgrade, the total transfer money spent in a single summer was staggering.
Both Manchester United and Manchester City have tremendous talent. There are, however, questions that exist with each team. United have some injury concerns, notably the seemingly constantly injured Rio Ferdinand and the (as of late) injury prone Wayne Rooney, who is again facing several games on the bench with an injured hamstring. David De Gea, the young goalkeeper, has at times looked lost and has been caught out of position too often.
Manchester City has problems of another sort – with all the talent they have, all the highly paid personnel, can they properly gel as a team? Early results say that they can, but so far there have been few high-pressure matches. Add in discontented players (like Carlos Tevez, who spent much of the summer lobbying for a move away from City) and maturity issues (like troubled but talented wild-child Mario Balotelli, who seems to find controversy like a moth finds a lightbulb), there and is some possibility of a collapse when the pressure starts heating up and the team gets into must-win situations.
All in all – this has been a roaring start for the teams from Manchester. Will it last? Who knows. The Premier League is a hit or miss place – ask Arsenal and Liverpool – where fortunes can change quickly. As it stands now, though, both United and City look set to continue their great autumn.
– Serek Hahn, Staff Writer