Tuesday, May 8, 2007

How The Title Was Won

We take a look back at the pivotal moments in the 2006/07 title race as United claim Championship glory...

Start as we mean to go on
United lay down a marker to the rest of the country by knocking five past Fulham in a thrilling attacking display in their first game of the season at Old Trafford.

Blues slip up almost immediately
A set of midweek fixtures follows hot on the heels of the opening weekend, and Wednesday 23 August turns out to be a good night for the Reds as United win at Charlton and Chelsea lose at Middlesbrough.

Gunners upset the applecart
Four straight victories keep United on top of the league until Sunday 17 September, when a defeat at home to old foes Arsenal allows Portsmouth to leapfrog us in the table. At least we're still ahead of Chelsea ­only just ­on goal difference.

But not for long
Another wobble in the league as United draw away at newly-promoted Reading. A win over Fulham in the west London derby lifts Chelsea two points clear at the top of the Premiership. Incredibly, it turns out to be the only time Chelsea will end the weekend on top of the league and the last time United don't.

Normal service is resumed
The champions stumble once again at home to Aston Villa on Saturday 30 September, drawing 1-1. United take full advantage, seeing off Newcastle with two goals from the evergreen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

A bad week for the Blues
All three points are accrued by Chelsea away at Reading on 14 October, but at some cost. Petr Cech suffers a fractured skull that was to rule out the influential stopper for three months. United still ahead on goal difference.

United step up a gear
A dramatic 2-0 win over Liverpool is followed by a 4-0 victory away at Bolton, featuring a glorious Wayne Rooney hat-trick, and an easy 3-0 win over Portsmouth. Chelsea slip up again the day after our Pompey win, losing to rivals Tottenham for the first time in 16 years with captain John Terry sent off. Reds go three clear at the top.

The big two lock horns
The Premiership hype machine goes into overdrive when champions meet challengers on 26 November at Old Trafford. Louis Saha puts the Reds in front, but a Ricardo Carvahlo header draws the visitors level. Final score 1-1.

Reds move on up
9/10 December is a big weekend in the race for the Premiership as United beat City 3-1 and Arsenal nick a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. United's lead at the top stretches to eight points.

United stumble in east London
Chelsea claw their way back into the championship race with a late rally at Goodison Park which sees them come from 2-1 down to beat Everton 3-2. United head to Upton Park but come up against a dogged West Ham side who run out 1-0 winners.

Boxing day blues for Chelsea
Yet again, Chelsea fail to capitalise on United's recent slip-ups, drawing at home to Reading on 26 December. United pile on the pressure by beating Wigan 3-1 later that afternoon.

Happy new year!
Four days later that four point lead turns into six when the Blues are held to a draw at home to Fulham. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is really hitting his stride and his two goals help see off Reading at Old Trafford.

Newcastle with point to prove
The heavy festive fixture list takes its toll as the Reds fail to beat Newcastle at St James Park on New Year's Day, young substitute David Edgar snatching a point for the Magpies with a dramatic long-range screamer. But again, Chelsea are unable to cash in on United's stumble, drawing 0-0 at Aston Villa.

Double slip-up
Chelsea go down 2-0 at Liverpool on 20 January and a Thierry Henry injury-time winner means United suffer defeat as well on their first visit to the Emirates Stadium.

Three points in it
Chelsea cut United's lead to after 3 points after narrowly beating Charlton Athletic. But the Reds reply with an impressive 4-0 win at Spurs.

Craven Cottage clincher
With Chelsea focusing on the Carling Cup final against Arsenal, United move 9 points clear thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's dramatic late winner at Fulham.




O'Shea Anfield scalp
Reds go 12 points clear thanks to John O'Shea's winner in the dying seconds in front of the Kop. Chelsea cut the lead down to 9 later that evening with a win at Fratton Park.

Keeping up the chase
Chelsea make their game in hand count with a 1-0 win away at City in mid-March and cut the gap back to 6.

It's as you were
With United again kicking off early and doing their job with a 4-1 win over Blackburn after coming from behind, Chelsea look like slipping up away to lowly Watford, but a last-gasp winner from Solomon Kalou keeps them in the title race.


South coast horror show
United slip up away at Pompey 2-1. Chelsea had already gained revenge on Spurs with a 1-0 win and so cut the gap to three points.

The pressure mounts
United's draw with Middlesbrough on 21 April makes the gap 4 points but it could be cut to one if Chelsea beat Newcastle the next day. Thankfully, they don't, drawing 0-0, meaning the gap is still 3.

Drama, drama, drama
Both United and Chelsea kick-off at the same time - the Reds at Goodison Park and the Blues at home to Bolton. The title chasing pair both go behind in the opening minutes. Chelsea draw level and are 2-1 up at the break. United meanwhile find themselves 2-0 down not long after the restart. Fast forward 40 minutes and incredibly United are winning 4-2, while Chelsea are held 2-2 by the Trotters - United's lead is now 5 points after an unbelievable day in the Premiership.

Champions!
A Cristiano Ronaldo penalty and a brilliant save by Edwin van der Sar from Darius Vassell's spot-kick late on puts United 8 points ahead on 5 May. Twenty-four hours later Chelsea fail to beat Arsenal and the Reds are crowned Premiership champions for the ninth time.


And some photos from the City-United and Arsenal-Chelsea game that ensured the trophy is heading back to Old Trafford.
RONNIE ON THE SPOT
Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 17th goal of the season from the penalty spot as Man United beat Man City 1-0.
SUPER STOPPER
Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar saves Darius Vassell's penalty as his team win at Eastlands.
GOING...
Chelsea's Khalid Boulahrouz is sent off by referee Alan Wiley against Arsenal.
GOING...
Gilberto Silva scores from the penalty spot to put Arsenal 1-0 up and Chelsea in the mire.
...GONE
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho consoles John Terry after his team lose the title to Manchester United.

No comments: