Leading the league approaching midpoint in the season is no guarantee United will win it come May. Still, being the team that ended City’s run of 37 league games unbeaten at home at the Etihad Stadium is a big boost for United. That it was United that snapped that streak will particularly sting for City and its fans. The red-blue divide cuts through Manchester — families and friendships — so defeats to the cross-town rival hit particularly close to home.
It is too early to be sure that the pendulum that swung from United, the 2011 champion, to City in 2012 is now swinging back to Old Trafford. Still, it was United that ended Arsenal’s 49-match unbeaten streak in 2004 and Chelsea’s 40-game unbeaten league run in 2005. Both those teams challenged United’s dominance for a while before Ferguson beat them back down — as he now intends to do to City.
With Van Persie, Ferguson has the tool to quiet his noisy neighbor down.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester