14/12/2009 10:56, Report by Stewart Gardner, MUTV
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Reasons to (still) be cheerful

MUTV commentator Stewart Gardner refuses to be downbeat after Saturday's narrow defeat to Aston Villa. After all, Chelsea are hardly pulling up any (Christmas) trees at the moment...

Losing at OT is always a bit of a jolt so I’m going to take it upon myself to come up with some reasons to be cheerful.

Firstly, it’s always far better when another game comes along very quickly after a defeat. We had to wait two long weeks after the Chelsea game before we could get our teeth into Everton. This time, we’ve only got a matter of hours before Wolves arrive in Manchester. I can’t help feeling they will be on the end of an almighty United backlash.

Secondly, United really didn’t play too badly on Saturday. It could all have been so different had Wayne not hit the bar or if Vida's header hadn’t been cleared off the line or if Brad Friedel hadn’t come up with his usual brilliant save or two. And, of course, Villa are a more than decent team. They are pacy and dynamic and have already seen off Chelsea and Liverpool. Their simply abysmal record against United had to come to an end sometime – sadly it was at OT on Saturday.

Thirdly, United are two points better off than at exactly the same stage last season and we still strolled to the title. A big thank you to Louis Saha by the way - the ex-Red's head was in the right place at the right time to deny Chelsea all three points on Saturday and prevent them going five points clear of United again. A couple of weeks ago, Chelsea were apparently champions elect and we were told they were unbeatable. Not now. Their defence makes Man City’s back four look watertight!

Fourthly, a look at the fixture list makes good reading. Our next seven Barclays Premier League games look very winnable indeed. We play Hull twice, Wigan, Burnley, Birmingham, Fulham and Wolves. We need to go on a run of victories and you wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Reds picked up an awful lot of points between now and the end of January. Plus we play League One minnows Leeds in the FA

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