Title race is back on as Fergie fumes over Man Utd penalty

Jan 21, 2013

Premier League talking points... from Manchester United's draw to Liverpool's new SAS

AFTER a weekend that saw Manchester United concede an injury-time equaliser at Spurs and champions Manchester City win against Fulham, the title race could be about to come alive. Alex Ferguson was left fuming after the game at White Hart Lane, but no matter how much he rants, his side's lead has now been cut to five points and City will smell blood.

There was plenty of drama elsewhere in the Premier League as Arsenal lost to Chelsea, and Reading won again to tighten things up at the bottom of the table.

Here's what people are talking about this morning:

Manchester United games often feature dramatic goals in injury time, but Alex Ferguson is not used to seeing his side concede them. However, Clint Dempsey's finish in the 93rd minute earned Spurs a draw against United and may have let Man City back into the title race. Unsurprisingly, Fergie was livid, but he didn't take it out on the timekeeper, instead blaming linesman Simon Beck for failing to award United a second-half penalty when Steven Caulker brought down Wayne Rooney in the box. On close inspection Fergie may have had a point, but what are the chances that United would have converted the spot kick? They have missed five of their nine penalties so far this season.

Arsene Wenger was forced to face the unappetising truth that after the Gunners' defeat to Chelsea, his side do not look good enough to finish in the top four this season. They are now seven points behind fourth-placed Spurs, although they do have a game in hand on their London rivals. But Everton are three points above them and Liverpool, West Brom and Swansea are nipping at their heels. The Gunners need a run of victories, and at the very least they need to beat Liverpool, in what could be a defining game for both teams, next week.

Is Rafa Bentiez's team selection being influenced by Roman Abramovich? The Chelsea owner was at Stamford Bridge on Sunday to watch the game against Arsenal, and was no doubt delighted to see his favourite forward, Fernando Torres, get the nod to play up front. One wonders what prompted Benitez to start with the £50m Spaniard, who has not scored for six games, and leave Ba on the bench. It's even more puzzling when you consider that the Senegalese has three goals in three starts for Chelsea and scored twice for his old club, Newcastle, against the Gunners last month.

After spending the first half of the season single-handedly carrying the Liverpool attack, Luis Suarez appears to be adapting well to life with a strike partner. And early indications suggest that he and new arrival Daniel Sturridge could form a formidible double-act. Both got on the score sheet against Norwich as the Reds beat the Canaries 5-0 for the second time this season. Sturridge became the first man since Alan Kennedy in 1974 to score in his first three games for Liverpool and his wonderful dummy to help set up Suarez's goal did not go unnoticed by the Uruguayan, who made a point of singling out Sturridge during his celebrations.

A few weeks ago Cameron Jerome was splashed all over the back pages after he scored an astonishing late equaliser for Stoke against Southampton. This week he produced another collector's item, but this is one that he will want to forget. With his side 2-0 down and the Potters pushing to make a comeback the ball ricocheted around the Swansea box and fell to Jerome a yard in front of an open goal. But somehow the striker, who has no trouble scoring from 25 yards, sent the ball over the bar. It may have been a turning point as high-flying Swansea went on to score a third and won the game 3-1.

Who is next for the chop after the sudden and unexpected departure of Nigel Adkins from Southampton last week? Newcastle fans turned on Alan Pardew, the manager of the season last term, after the Magpies lost 2-1 at home to Reading on Saturday to leave them teetering two points above the relegation zone. But more at risk is Paul Lambert of Aston Villa, whose side threw away a two-goal lead against West Brom last weekend. They are one point away from the drop and trail lowly Bradford 3-1 after the first leg of their League Cup semi final. Villa face Millwall in the FA Cup on Friday and then play Newcastle next week.

Sign up for our daily newsletter