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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Champions Are Back Where They Belong

Merry Christmas folks! It's been a wonderful, pleasant Boxing Day, starting with Chelsea's extraordinary 4-4 draw against Villa, ending with Arsenal's lifeless 0-0 draw at Pompey.

However, what happened between these games is by far the most interesting for us: Manchester United, the champions of England, underlined their credentials once again with an easy win over a struggling, poor Sunderland side.

With Anderson and Hargreaves rested, at first glance United's engine room looked far less substantial than before. However, Carrick and Fletcher rose to the admittably not too difficult task and outplayed their Sunderland counterparts while Nani and O'Shea did the job superbly in the absence of Giggs and Evra on the left.

The opening exchanges were a bit scrappy but it was always United who threatened to score, the first real chance of the game fell to Louis Saha who scuffed his shot wide after a great run and a precise pass from O'Shea. The goal arrived soon afterwards as Brown raced out defense then played a wonderfully measured through ball to Rooney's path who slid it past the advancing Gordon with impressive composure.

No joking here: Sunderland looked defeated from that very minute. United stroked the ball around nonchalantly, missing a few chances and being generally at ease with the world. Then they shook it off, switched into second gear and Ronaldo released Rooney on the left, the striker cut back and sent a great ball towards Saha whose first-time volley from six yards landed in the back of the net.

And that was game over really, especially that despite Kenwyne Jones's admirable efforts, this Sunderland team did not possess neither bite nor quality to trouble us. Rio and Vidic had a largely easy afternoon, Fletcher tied up the loose ends and Carrick could busy himself in attack. Rooney often turned provider as usual but none of the slick counterattacks brought another goal in the first half: it came courtesy of a brilliant Ronaldo free-kick that put the icing on the cake after an imperious first-half display.

The second half, predictably, was quite boring. United were content to sit back and keep the ball as Sunderland's players failed to trouble them. Retrieving and retaining possession is a weakness of Sunderland and you have to be concerned if you happen to like Keano as much as I do.

However, thoughts of sympathy came only after the game as United, of course, are more important. It's true, though, that I could have been swallowed by my concerns as the game never threatened to explode. Rooney missed the biggest chance by firing over the bar after a great pass by Brown but it wasn't the highlight of the game.

Ji-sung Park has not played since March but he was sent on today amid heartfelt chants of 'Park, Park, wherever you may be...'. It was touching while the Korean's performance was encouraging: he displayed a hunger for the ball and a keen eye for it: one measured pass to Nani through the defense was particularly outstanding yet the otherwise impressive Portuguese lashed it high and wide from a good position.

Another goal came at the end though after Nani made the most of a very slight contact in the box and promptly fell over. Rennie pointed to the spot, Saha tucked it away and we were left with the task of cheering on Portsmouth. We did it rather well it seems as they comfortably held Arsenal to a goalless draw and handed us, wrapped nicely in golden paper, a wonderful Christmas present: the summit of the Premier League. That's where we belong.

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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday December 27 2007

Time: 12:17AM

Your Comments

Wont be there for too long
I trust you raised a glass or three to us for keeping the gunners quiet.
I hope you're right highmark998. Can stand the gunners but not United!
we will be there til the end of the season so get used to it.
enjoy it while it last.
where they belong...losing.....muggs
fran merida
if it stays like this you might not even make the end of the week
fran merida
that's a bit of a silly headline now, eh?
especially after losing to the scum.....! Arse's Title......!
you sure are back where you belong - behind The Arsenal, muppets
ha ha talk now but your not good enough to win anything apart from the league cup and i cant wait til the end of the season to see you react to no major trophies.
again getting a little ahead of yourself. He who not learns from his mistakes after the first one, is most likely stupid.
Manures are getting ahead of themselves... again. You smug manures...
lol, yu lot just cannot defend against defenders..
It'll be very ridiculous if arsenal kids take the title and you arsenal fans can be sure it won't happen, your kids will drop points soon, no doubt that inexpert squad don't deserve the title.
Star 3000
arsenal kids im sure most of there first choice 11 can not be considered kids.
And after your sleaze ridden xmas party I'm equally sure that none of your players can be considered men.
so they f***ed a few slags so ******** what that dont mean they aint men.
You see some pretty low things on vital from time to time, and the above twaddle condoning roasting and a possible rape is right down there with the lowest, real men don't need their mates standing round baying and jeering as they pump a paralytic bimbo, just silly little boys out on a jolly thankful to get away from the clutches of their parasitic gold digging other halves, Bobby Charlton must be sick to his stomach.
there werent no rape so i dont condone it an if the girls never wanted to get roasted they would not of been there.
I'm a Liverpool fan but I have to defend Jonny Evans cos he hasn't been found guilty, has he?
Innocent till proven guilty is the cornerstone of our justice system...
So they're girls now? what happened to slags? I don't know there was a rape and you don't know there was'nt one so don't pretend otherwise, what I said was it was a pretty crass statement from rooneyisgod bearing in mind the severity of the allegations that followed, mind you given his latest statement it's pretty obvious his understanding of women is pretty limited if he thinks that any woman that attends a party is up for a roasting.
"if the girls never wanted to get roasted they would not of been there." So you're happy that this is the behavior that is expected of the English Champions? This is the team which kids aretaken to watch, who are on TV, who represent the UK in the CL and the best line you have is "if the girls never wanted to get roasted they would not of been there"? What kind of a person are you?
well there grown men and what are they supposed to do not get with any women? and as long as the kids dont get tickets to watch the sex i think it will be ok.
united for another league title this yr cant see the gooners holding on even tho they are great to watch united will still be on top at the end
ronnie redknapp

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