Following United's coronation as champions, we take a brief look at the Barclays Premier League battle between Sir Alex's men, Manchester City and early frontrunners Chelsea...
Month-end positions and points for the three teams appear after each paragraph.
Only one of the three teams who were to dominate the top three places throughout the season emerged unscathed from August: Chelsea. Roberto Di Matteo's European champions did not drop a single point, albeit against three sides that would spend their season in the bottom half of the table, namely Newcastle, Reading and Wigan. Meanwhile, United started with a loss to one of the previous season’s tormentors, Everton, but bounced back by beating Fulham 3-2 at Old Trafford with the aid of first goals from summer signings Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa. City also played two games to Chelsea’s three in August, defeating Southampton but drawing with Liverpool at Anfield.
Chelsea – 1st (9 points); Man City – 5th (4 points); United - 7th (3 points)
United and City won games in hand over Chelsea, with van Persie’s hat-trick seeing off Southampton and the Blues reprising their dramatic May win over Queens Park Rangers with another injury-time goal by an Argentine striker. This time it was Carlos Tevez on target. QPR became the first side to take points off Chelsea after the international break but the leaders returned to winning ways against Stoke and, more impressively, away to Arsenal. United also triumphed in a major rival’s backyard, 2-1 at Liverpool, but otherwise won one (Wigan 4-0) and lost one (Spurs 2-3) at home. City stuttered with two draws (Stoke, Arsenal) and a narrow win over Fulham.
Chelsea - 1st (16 points); United - 3rd (12 points); Man City - 4th (12 points)
The Reds averaged more than three goals per league match, completely reversing one of last season’s worst results by winning 3-0 away to Newcastle with goals from Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans and Tom Cleverley. Wayne Rooney opened his account with a double in the 4-2 win over Stoke and Javier Hernandez took his turn in the spotlight with the winning goal in a see-sawing clash at Stamford Bridge. Despite that result, Chelsea still ended October on top after earlier wins over Norwich and Spurs. City had a better month with maximum points from meetings with Sunderland, West Brom and Swansea.
Chelsea - 1st (22 points); United - 2nd (21 points);