This Sporting Week in Video

Join ESPNSTAR.com's David Horsburgh for a look back at all the shocks, surprises, and stories from the week in sport

Football News: Athletic Bilbao vs Manchester Unite

MONDAY


United go top of the table as City succumb to Swansea

Earlier in the season the question was not if Manchester City would win the Premier League, but how many points they would amass along the way. And as for their cross town rivals Manchester United, a 6-1 thrashing  at Old Trafford seemed to suggest that the tide really had turned.

But come the business end of the season, an all too familiar picture is emerging, in that once again Sir Alex Ferguson has his side peaking at exactly the right time. With United Having already beaten Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham in 2012, the pressure seemingly proved too much for City as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against newly promoted Swansea.

This leaves the Red Devils top for the first time since October and although Roberto Mancini has brushed off the importance of league position at this stage, how his City side respond to this latest setback could be the deciding factor in this year's title race.

TUESDAY


Dalglish admits Liverpool's recent for is not good enough

Perhaps more so than at any other club, when one becomes a legend at Liverpool, they are a legend for life. The level of unwavering faith and devotion shown by the Anfield fans may explain why it has taken so long for murmurs of discontent, over the management of Kenny Dalglish, to surface.

However, after racking up just one win so far in 2012 and with a goals total closer to that of relegation-threatened clubs than title challengers, the initial excitement of Dalglish's return is definitely fading. 

Fortunately, as a man more in tune with Liverpool's footballing psyche than almost anyone else, King Kenny is well aware that his side needs to improve if they are to match their fan's expectations, and a derby win over Everton could be just the boost they need.

WEDNESDAY

 

Arsenal chasing down Spurs for third spot

The Premier League title looks as though it is heading back to Manchester, but there is still plenty of interest in who will be London's top club come the end of this season. Aside from local bragging rights, two Champions League spots are up for grabs and the race for third, with an automatic spot into Europe's elite club competition, is especially tight between Arsenal and Tottenham.

Although it would have been hard to see Arsenal battling it out in the top four after their humiliating 8-2 loss to Manchester United, the Gunners are now right on the tail of their rivals from the Lane. Their amazing recovery has seen Tottenham's lead whittled down to just a single point, and the momentum is clearly with Arsene Wenger's men. 

Spurs arguably have the easier run-in to the end of the season, with only Chelsea and Sunderland providing much of a threat on paper. However, if Robin Van Persie can stay injury-free and among the goals, Arsenal could easily snatch third spot from under their nose of their bitter rivals.

THURSDAY

 

Berbatov nearing Manchester United exit

When Dimitar Berbatov arrived at Manchester United for a club-record 30.75million Pounds, Red Devils fans across the world were rejoicing over a player deemed a natural successor to the brilliant, if slightly petulant Eric Cantona.

But despite scoring 56 goals in a 147 appearances and claiming 2 Premier League titles, Berbatov's time at Old Trafford has been disappointing. Free-scoring spells have been punctuated by long periods on the bench and behind United's other star strikers in the pecking order.

Reports that the player is unhappy at his bit-part role have been confirmed by manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who although keen to keep the Bulgarian beyond the end of the season, has admitted he may have to let him go.

FRIDAY

 

Manchester clubs crash out of Europa League

The Europa League has had plenty of detractors since it emerged from the UEFA Cup and none more vicious than Sir Alex Ferguson. Earlier this season, the United boss infamously labeled the competition as a 'punishment' after his side were knocked out of the Champions League and many expected either United or cross-town rivals Manchester City to ease to the title.

Three months later however, and the Europa League looks as strong as ever. Not only were Manchester United unable to overturn their first leg deficit against Athletic Bilbao, instead losing 2-1, but Manchester City also crashed out on away goals to Portugal's Sporting Lisbon. 

There will be claims that both club's focus was squarely on the Premier League title and that the players featured were not the best the clubs had to offer. However, even Sir Alex had to admit that his side were simply outplayed by their unfancied opponents, and both results suggests that big clubs can no longer underestimate the quality of European football's second-tier tournament. 

 

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