The Premier League title race recommenced after the frenzied final day of the transfer window and Wayne Rooney showed that he’s worth every bit as much as any other hitman in England. His two strikes and overall performance may finally take the monkey of the goal scoring drought off his back as Manchester United continued its march to a record breaking title with a 3-1 defeat of Aston Villa at Old Trafford. With 14 matches remaining, second placed Arsenal are trailing 5 points behind, Manchester City by 9, reigning champions Chelsea are 10 points worse off and you can safely discount Spurs.
The position even raises the highly unlikely possibility that the title could come to Old Trafford before tough away clashes with both London rivals have to be played. The odds against that happening are admittedly long but if City can be overcome at home on Saturday week, it could be worth having a small wager on it. Is that simply wishful thinking on my part? YES!
Manchester United 3 v Aston Villa 1
Daily Telegraph – In a week when the value of a goalscorer has reached new stratospheric levels, Wayne Rooney finally reminded Manchester United why he was too valuable to let go by re-awakening his dormant goal-touch to secure victory against Aston Villa. Two goals from Rooney plus an assist for Nemanja Vidic’s second-half strike, ensured that United equalled the club record run of 29 league games unbeaten and consolidated their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
But the statistics pale into insignificance in comparison to the impact of Rooney’s return to the scoresheet. Fernando Torres might have cost Chelsea £50m and Liverpool’s Andy Carroll a relative snip at £35m, but when Rooney is scoring goals and making them, he is priceless to United. The fact that United went into this game on the brink of equalling the club record of 29 league games without defeat was largely due to their remarkable fightback from 2-0 down at Villa Park in November. Full Report
Midlands Express and Star – Wayne Rooney scored twice as Manchester United equalled their record 29-match unbeaten league run by beating Aston Villa 3-1 at Old Trafford. Rooney took just 50 seconds to open United’s account, then added another in first-half stoppage time. But it took a rare Nemanja Vidic effort to calm a few nerves after Darren Bent had pulled one back for the visitors. There were just 50 seconds on the clock when Edwin van der Sar launched a clearance deep into Villa territory from just outside his own area. Rooney took one touch to control, then belted the ball past Brad Friedel.
With the exception of one Bent effort, United dominated thereafter. Dimitar Berbatov failed to threaten with a couple of close-range efforts. Nani got a bit closer, one attempt bringing a brilliant save out of Friedel. Ryan Giggs also made the veteran American work with a mazy run and shot that forced a low save by the post. Yet, as injury-time approached, United were still waiting for that crucial second which would have set their minds at ease. Full Report
Manchester Evening News – Wayne Rooney scored two goals and made the other as Manchester United kept ahead of the chasing pack with victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford. Rooney, who has been under the spotlight for his poor goal scoring form, blasted the Reds ahead in impressive style after just 48 seconds. He added a second just before the break and although £24m man Darren Bent pulled a goal back for Villa, Nemanja Vidic sealed the victory for United after an assist from Rooney. The Reds, still unbeaten in the Premier League, are now five points clear of second-placed Arsenal.
Rooney’s sense of timing is back and couldn’t have been more perfect as the Invincibles equalled a United club record of 29 unbeaten league matches. The football world has been digesting and debating the mammoth £152m spent during the January transfer window on strikers. But while rivals like City and Chelsea were adding to their firepower there was still the concern in the back of United’s fans minds that Rooney was still desperately scratching around for the form that brought him a career best 34 goals last season. Full Report
Manchester United – van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Fletcher (Anderson 34), Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov GOALS Rooney (1m, 45m), Vidic (63m)
Aston Villa – Friedel, Walker, Dunne Collins, Clark, Albrighton (Heskey 69), Makoun, Petrov (Agbonlahor 74), Downing (Reo-Coker 80), A.Young; Bent GOAL Bent (58m)