Premiership Football – Manchester United close the gap on City thanks to Berbatov hat-trick

”]A hat-trick from Berbatov sealed United’s emphatic 5-0 win over Wigan, which meant Ferguson’s men draw level on points with their “noisy neighbours” as Man City draw against West Brom.

Manchester United took control of the match from the outset with Ji Sung Park scoring within the opening ten minutes, and Wigan were unable to wrestle the momentum back from the reigning champions at any point during the game. Berbatov scored his first before half time to take United into the break two goals ahead. After the break United continued their domination and Berbatov slotted his second with a neat turn and excellent finish past the helpless Al Habsi. Valencia scored the fourth before Berbatov completed his hat-trick with a penalty.

Wigan may well feel unlucky as two major decisions went against them. The first was the harsh sending off for Sammon as he caught Utd’s Michael Carrick in the face. The second was the penalty decision, which was a soft decision by anybody’s eye. However, even if these two decisions had gone Wigan’s way, United would still have deserved to win 5-0, as they created chance after chance.

The only down side for Ferguson was the loss of another defender in Evans who is expected to be out for a couple of weeks with a calf injury. This brings Manchester United’s injury list to a total of 11, which is a mark of the quality United possess to still be able to win by such a great margin. Ferguson will be hoping his defensive pairing of Smalling and Jones will be available by New Years Eve, as both were unavailable due to illness.

This is in a great contrast to Manchester City who have been relatively injury free much of the season. Yesterday, they were held to 0-0 by West Bromich Albion at the Hawthorns, which meant West Brom were the first to prevent Mancini’s men from scoring in the Premiership all season.

The game was more interesting than the scoreline would suggest with Man City dominating possession, but struggling to find the clinical edge to take the three points. Much of the credit for this must go to Roy Hodgson’s West Brom, as the Baggies were organised and hard-working in their defence. Mancini’s men struggled to break through the two lines of four behind the ball through much of the game only a thundering Balotelli shot, which struck the bar and Silva’s skied effort from an Aguero cut back stood out.

As the game wore on West Brom became more adventurous going forward, as they tried to hit Man City on the counter atttack. Jerome Thomas came closest with a 25 yard shot, which hit the base of the upright. West Brom held their nerve in spite of increased pressure from City towards the end of the game and the local fans celebrated like it was a victory.

In the other games in the league Chelsea drew 1-1 at home to Fulham, which causes them to slip further away from the two Manchester clubs and potentially Tottenham who play later today (Tuesday). Liverpool only managed to draw 1-1 against Blackburn despite numerous opportunities to win. This is the tale of Liverpool’s season with six draws at home, but plenty of chances to win all of these games outright. This result relieves some of the pressure on beleaguered Keen who is still clinging onto the Blackburn job despite vocal fan opposition. Scoring is not a problem for Newcastle striker Demba Ba who netted again in their 0-2 win over Bolton in a game, which could have gone either way. Everton managed to secure a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light after a controversial penalty spoiled Martin O’Neill and Sunderland’s festive cheer. The final match of the boxing day schedule was a traditional 0-0 bore draw for Aston Villa and Stoke City.