How incredible was that?

You just gotta love the English Premier League! Where else do you have a festive treat of daily top league action for six days? Where else do you have results as incredible as those served to us over the New Year round of fixtures? Where? Well, nowhere else seems to be the answer and it surely has to be the right one.

The feast started with Newcastle United making the westward trip to Anfield where they were beaten 3-1 by my Liverpool on Friday night and ended with the Magpies humbling defending champions Manchester United, who made the reverse journey to the Sports Direct Arena (formerly St James’ Park), 3-0 on Wednesday night.

In between, we saw the Red Devils stumbling to a shock 3-2 defeat at home to bottom side Blackburn Rovers, the Arsenal being stunned by a late Fulham revival to lose at the Craven Cottage, Aston Villa silencing Stamford Bridge and Sunderland remarkably stinging table toppers Manchester City at the Stadium of Light.

Of course, the Citizens redeemed themselves with an emphatic home win over the Reds, the Blues vented their frustration on hapless Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Gunners had earlier collected full points and London bragging rights at the expense of stuttering Queen’s Park Rangers, but no one could have predicted this set of results.

Indeed, BBC predictions guru Mark Lawrenson got a 100 percent failure rate for Monday with all the five fixtures going a different way from how he saw them panning out. It was Sunderland who came out of these fixtures with six points, propelling themselves out of relegation danger to mid-table safety as new manager Martin O’Neill continues to weave his magic.

You would normally associate Sunderland’s points haul with clubs of United’s ilk but Sir Alex Ferguson’s men came out of this football banquet empty-handed. They were tied with their neighbours on 45 points, but now find themselves three points adrift, which is not alarming in itself given the amount of football still to be played.

What would be worrying, however, is the fact that the club has lost two matches in a row and in a very uncharacteristic manner. One could say Saturday’s team against Rovers was unbalanced with so many players fielded out of position due to the absence of some players, but the same excuse cannot wash as regards perhaps the team’s worst performance on Wednesday night when they failed to score for the first time this season.

With Tottenham Hotspur threatening to get level on points if they win their game in hand next Wednesday, United should be as concerned about catching City as they are about keeping Harry Redknapp’s men at bay. Results and performances need to improve tremendously for this to be the case.

That improvement has to start tomorrow when they make the short trip to Eastlands to meet the Citizens, who currently boast a formidable home record, in the tie of the FA Cup third round. Defeat would be third in a row and mean they are out of the Carling Cup, out of the Uefa Champions League and out of the FA Cup halfway through the season.

If that were to happen, whatever they go on to achieve this season, this would be one of those less successful seasons by their own lofty standards. Pressure time? Maybe not. As yet.

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