What an odd weekend it proved to be, with ManYoo faltering at home to a chronically inconsistent Middlesbrough side.
With the Champions League semi final against AC Milan looming, Sir Alex rested Ryan Giggs ahead of the game and low and behold, they turn up with an uninspiring performance against the Midlands team.
Under fire for being utterly useless recently, Kieran Richardson helped United to the lead which was down to some slack defending on Boro's part and also Rooney's composure.
But Sir Alex might have made a monumental mistake after he failed to haul off Rio Ferdinand despite the defender struggling with a thigh injury he picked up previously. The injury caused Ferdinand to struggle and was unable to track Mark Viduka minutes later, who scored from a diving header at van der Saar's near post.
You'd expect United to come back strongly and scoot away with 3 points easily but surprisingly, Middlesbrough held on and got an important point away from home and did Jose Mourinho's Chelsea a big favour.
And now Alex Ferguson will have to contempt with the mounting injury problems that has suddenly hit the United squad over the last couple of weeks. With Gary Neville and Nemanja Vidic already out, losing Rio is a huge blow to their Champions League endeavour and might have serious implication on their title aspiration.
Might be so near yet so far for United.....But Jose's men didn't do enough....
Chelsea Blew The Chance To Close The Gap
It has been so predictable over the past few weekends that Chelsea will go away from each game, winning 1-0, doing just enough to get all 3 points.
But it all came to a screeching halt after Newcastle became the first team this season to produce a goal-less draw with Chelsea.
St. James' Park has never really been a happy hunting ground for Chelsea and with United faltering on Saturday, the ball was in Chelsea's court.
But Jose's men crumbled under pressure and turned up with an uninspiring and lacklustre performance against the Magpies.
In all likeness, the two title contenders have an upcoming semi final match to look forward to and both of them looked distracted, more so for Chelsea, who were listless and was also constantly caught out by Newcastle's counter attack.
The wing-back position has been such a headache for Jose this season and this match continued to underline the problem with Chelsea. Paulo Ferreira, Lassana Diara, Geremi and Michael Essien all played at the right back slot and none has made the position his.
Wayne Bridge, who started ahead of Ashley Cole, struggled with the pace of Kieron Dyer while Michael Ballack sustained an injury after clashing with Titus Bramble.
Aside from the performance, it was also not without controversies and Jose Mourinho will most likely be punished for his rantings against the referee, who turned down a couple of penalty claims from his side.
He was not without a point but once again it feels like a pot calling the kettle black because there are so many penalty claims over the past seasons where it was so obvious but were waved away by so many referees.
It all balanced up, Jose. Just shut up.
With Chelsea looking so unlike themselves and so insipid, Rafa Benitez should be quietly confident that his Reds will be able to once again, defeat Chelsea and march into another cup finals.
Watford Relegated While The Rest Continues To Struggle
The Hornets are officially the first team to dropped out of the Premiership this season despite a 1-1 draw with Manchester City this weekend.
Although they're haven't move out of the drop zone since earlier this season, they have showed great character and one couldn't really find much fault of them despite finishing last.
They're unlucky to lose their key man, Marlon King, to a long term injury and that was a huge blow to Aidy Boothroyd and his team. The man who almost singlehandedly brough Watford to the Premiership wasn't able to join up with his team mate up until last week but it was already too late.
With limited resources and players who aren't up to the standards, Watford struggled throughout but what is admirable about them is they never gave up and self destruct. Despite being a certainty for the drop, they didn't let their heads drop and continued to give their best.
Their best performance was perhaps, the one against Portsmouth where they defeated them 3-1. One thing is for certain that is it won't be long before we know who'll be joining them next season.
Monday, April 23, 2007