Manchester United have been cruising along nicely in their bid to reclaim the Premier League title from neighbours Manchester City, but are now having to deal with the bitter blow that Nemanja Vidic being ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with torn knee ligaments.
After opening up a seven-point gap on City, the Red Devils can be backed at a miniscule 1/4 to win the title back. Vidic’s return, however, had coincided with an upturn in their defensive fortunes and his absence will leave them relying on Rio Ferdinand alone for experience at centre half.
Knee trouble has plagued Vidic all campaign, causing him to miss 20 of the Red Devils’ games thus far and another recurrence of the problem suggests that he is yet to fully recover from the ruptured cruciate ligament he suffered in United’s Champions League defeat in Basel last term.
Two of United’s five Premier League clean sheets have come with their captain marshalling the back line, and the team have conceded no more than one goal in any of the league games the Serb has featured in since his most recent return from injury.
Contrast this with the nine goals shipped in the previous five top-flight clashes without him and United’s stroll to the title maybe about to hit a rocky patch over the coming weeks.
They won each of the aforementioned five games that Vidic sat out, but they can’t reasonably expect to keep winning matches after giving up two or three goals to the opposition.
It’s also fair to argue that Vidic’s return only brought about one clean sheet, yet his commanding presence and leadership qualities have been crucial for United in the past and, as the team bids to get over the line in the title race, there’s no question that Sir Alex Ferguson will be ruing his skipper’s latest setback.
Nevertheless, this injury could hasten the 31-year-old’s Old Trafford departure, as concerns over his durability are now inevitably being aired.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date