United ensured that all fans went into Christmas day in buoyant mood, with two convincing victories in London, away to QPR and then to Fulham, in the space of a week. United won the former fixture 2-0, although some might argue that there were more goals to be had on the given day. Goals were in no shortage against Fulham, however, with United romping to a 5-0 thrashing against a side who have recently given the Reds a lot of grief at Craven Cottage.
Both matches had been earmarked as potentially tricky encounters, and the need to win was apparent, given City's continued good form. A lot of the tension in both games was relieved quite early on, however, with United opening scoring in the first few minutes on both occasions. Against QPR, Wayne Rooney rekindled the magical partnership of the 2009/10, pouncing onto an Antonio Valencia cross to head into the corner within just a minute after the kickoff. Nani and Valencia caused untold misery to both London sides with their blistering pace and dazzling skill, and the oppositions' full-backs had no answer to this menacing United duet.
Jonny Evans could count himself as quite unlucky at Loftus Road, having hit the bar/ post on numerous occasions, but it was another rare scorer in Michael Carrick who finally put the game to bed. Seizing on a misplaced pass from Joey Barton, Carrick showed some good feet to get past his midfield markers, and galloped forward relatively unchallenged, before his rather tame effort from the edge of the area beat Cerny in the QPR goal. It was a welcome goal for the English midfielder, after going 70 matches without scoring, and a nice way to cap off an otherwise impressive performance at the heart of midfield.
At Fulham, the game started off with a bit of a scare after Clint Demspey's inadvertent elbow caught Phil Jones full on the cheek, for which he was eventually taken off. Scans have since shown that it is nothing more than a bruising, and that he should be fit to take part in the Boxing Day match against Wigan, should he be required. Ashley Young, who also suffered injury, will unfortunately be out for "several weeks". The rest of the game went brilliantly for all concerned with United, with Danny Welbeck latching onto Nani's cross from the left to open the scoring after just two minutes of actual playing time. United went into half-time with a 3-0 lead on their hosts, with goals from Nani and Giggs virtually ending the contest within the first 45 minutes.
Fulham did come out with a greater sense of purpose in the second half, and began to ask some questions of Anders Lindegaard in the United goal, but nothing threatening enough to break his clean-sheet streak in the Premier League. The icing on the cake was then added first by Wayne Rooney, with a curling 30-yard strike that Stockdale had absolutely no chance with, and then by substitute Berbatov, who got his first League goal of the season with a magnificent back-heel off Antonio Valencia's cross.
No one could ask for more than six points and two great performances in two tough away games within a short space of time. Michael Carrick, Nani, Valencia, Welbeck, Giggs and Lindegaard particularly impressed in this period, and with two relatively straightforward home games against Wigan and Blackburn should suggest that United can come through the festive period with an amazing 18 points out of 18.
Man of the Match
QPR - Michael Carrick
Fulham - Nani
QPR - Carrick's superb winner
Fulham - Berbatov's back-heel
QPR - Nothing of note
Fulham - Injuries to Young and Jones
2012/2013 Pickem Winner
Congratulations to RedDevilDazzy who clinched the winners spot of our pickem predictions game, it was close!!