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31/12/2012 10:10, Report by Editorial team
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Half-term report: 2012/13

To date, 2012/13 has been a campaign of high-octane, winding, churning brilliance. With a draining half-season still in store, take a break and relive five madcap months...

Turning on the style
To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. In which case, the signs in 2012/13 augur well for the remainder of the campaign. For the first time in 99 years, United secured top-flight wins at Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, while victory over Arsenal completed a remarkable 12-point haul from our grandest quartet of Premier League fixtures, and that’s not to mention a comprehensive 3-0 win at Newcastle. With the exception of a first Anfield win in almost five years, the most notable aspect of each victory was a strong first-half display. While early concessions have riddled the majority of the Reds’ fixtures this term, we were ahead inside three minutes against Arsenal, four minutes at Chelsea, eight minutes at St James’ Park and 16 minutes in the Manchester derby.

Back in character
United were already out of the Champions League this time last year, but this term has been a very different story. The Reds were home and hosed by the end of Matchday Four, although progress admittedly came with the customary United drama. After Michael Carrick’s early goal got Sir Alex’s men off to the perfect start at home to Galatasaray, the Reds had to hang on for a vital 1-0 win after Nani’s penalty miss and other wasted opportunities. United came from behind in the next three games, away at Cluj and home and away to Braga, to ensure maximum points and qualification for the knockout phase. Back-to-back defeats followed in the final two group matches, away to Galatasaray and at home to Cluj, but neither result affected United’s position as winners of Group H. “Our minds are focused on challenging all the way to the final,” declared Sir Alex. The next hurdle on that path comes in the formidable form of Real Madrid. Bring it on!

The Dutch destroyer
In his Newcastle programme notes, Sir Alex compared Robin van Persie’s impact to that made by Eric Cantona. “He has made a vital difference to our chances in this season’s title race,” wrote the boss. In front of goal, Robin has the calm, ruthless efficiency of a hitman. “He’s similar to Ruud in the way he puts chances away,” says Ryan Giggs. But the Dutchman’s adroit hold-up play, elegant touch and enthusiasm for setting up goals have been equally important. The

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