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EPL PHOTOS: United hit top spot as City mull Tevez return

Last updated on: March 12, 2012 17:00 IST

EPL PHOTOS: United hit top spot as City mull Tevez return

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Manchester United got their noses in front in the two-horse race Premier League title race on Sunday and were installed as the odds-on favourites to keep the trophy in the red half of town.

The champions' 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Swansea City left United one point ahead with 10 matches left, and London bookmaker William Hill made United 8/13 favourites to win the title with City drifting out to 6/5.

"United haven't been odds-on for the title since September, but as ever seem to be making their move at just the right time," said Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe.


Image: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (right) celebrates after his goal against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday

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Time for Mancini to unleash Tevez

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Both teams clearly have the resources to finish as England's top club, but while United can call on the experience of winning 12 titles since 1993 and 19 in total, City, who won the last of their two titles in 1968, have a joker in their pack.

Now could be the time for Mancini to gamble by unleashing Carlos Tevez to swing the title City's way for the first time in 44 years.

Tevez, whose last league appearance was as a late substitute against Fulham in September before his spectacular fall-out with the club, knows what it takes to collect Premier League titles having won two at United in 2008 and 2009.

Image: Carlos Tevez with Roberto Mancini


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City need to start finding the net

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Since making up with Mancini, he has played in two reserve matches and scored one goal, and Mancini knows City need to start finding the net again.

Tevez might be rusty, lacking match fitness and never be totally welcomed back into the hearts of the City faithful, but he knows where the goal is.

This time last year he was on his way to finishing the season as joint-top scorer in the Premier League and the least he owes the City fans is goals in a run-in which includes next week's home match against Chelsea, a visit to resurgent Arsenal and tricky games against Sunderland and Newcastle as well as the visit of United on April 30.

Image: Mario Balotelli of Manchester City lies on the ground after missing a chance on goal against Swansea City on Sunday


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'We are in a good position; hopefully we can maintain our lead'

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While Tevez has missed a large chunk of the season on his unauthorised trip back home in Argentina, his old United team mate Wayne Rooney has been finding the net regularly, taking his total to 26 for the season with both goals against West Brom.

"We are plugging away, we have to keep going and keep picking up the points to get over the line," Rooney said.

"We know what we have to do and hopefully it will be enough. We are in a good position now and hopefully we can maintain our lead."


Image: A Manchester United supporter holds a banner during their English Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford, on Sunday


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'There are still 10 games to play, anything can happen'

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United's run-in appears to be easier with six of their next seven games against clubs currently in the bottom seven, Wolverhampton Wanderers (19th), Fulham (10th), Blackburn Rovers (16th), Queens Park Rangers (18th), Wigan Athletic (20th) and Aston Villa (15th).

Apart from the match at City, United also have to play Everton, Swansea City and Sunderland and as their string of titles proves, they know how to handle the pressure.

Mancini, though, remained far from downbeat following Sunday's loss.

"There are still 10 games to play," he said. "And anything can happen."

The one thing everyone can bet on, in a season in which City beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford and United overwhelmed Arsenal 8-2, is that this race is far from over.


Image: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini looks on with Sami Nasri in the foreground


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Everton edge Spurs 1-0

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Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur are peering anxiously over their shoulders after a 1-0 Premier League loss at Everton on Saturday continued a slump in form while Chelsea beat Stoke City by the same scoreline to keep the pressure on their London rivals.

A first-half goal by Nikica Jelavic was enough for Everton to condemn Spurs to a third consecutive league defeat, raising question marks about their top-four credentials just weeks after Harry Redknapp's side were trumpeted as title contenders.

Image: Everton's Nikica Jelavic (2nd from) celebrates after scoring against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday


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Drogba strikes to help Chelsea go past Stoke

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Chelsea began the post-Andre Villas-Boas era in the league with striker Didier Drogba sealing a 1-0 home victory over 10-man Stoke City to put them level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal who host Newcastle United on Monday.

- The axed emperors of Chelsea's Roman empire

Both sides are now only four points behind Tottenham Hotspur who almost snatched a draw at Goodison Park when former Everton stinker Louis Saha stabbed a late chance against the post.

Drogba's 100th Premier League goal made it a satisfying week for Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, upgraded after Villas-Boas last week paid for a poor run of form with his job after just eight month at the helm.



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'Sometimes you have to win a little bit scrappy'

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Di Matteo relied on the old guard of Drogba, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry, back after injury, to see off Stoke who played three quarters of the match a man light after Ricardo Fuller was red-carded for a stamp on Branislav Ivanovic.

"Today was a step in the right direction, we got three points, and sometimes in a season you have to win like this to get the three points, it is not always going to be easy," Di Matteo, whose side had an average age of 28-1/2, told Sky Sports.

"Sometimes you have to win a little bit scrappy."

Liverpool's slender hopes of a top-four finish diminished with a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland for whom Nicklas Bendtner scored the winner while Aston Villa earned a 1-0 victory over Fulham that moved them away from the danger zone.

Image: Roberto Di Matteo


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QPR denied by 'ghost goal'

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Two relegation battles produced precious wins for Bolton Wanderers against Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers at Wolverhampton Wanderers and more ammunition for those seeking the introduction of goal-line technology.

Bolton's 2-1 victory, sealed in the 86th minute by Ivan Klasnic, was overshadowed by a "ghost goal" for QPR's Clint Hill whose header clearly crossed the line in the 20th but was not given when the score was 0-0.

Image: Queens Park Rangers' Danny Gabbidon (3rd from left) looks up at teammate Clint Hill (left) after scoring an own goal as Bolton Wanderers' Kevin Davies (2nd from right) celebrates. However the refree did not give the goal


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