Manchester United suffered a blip yesterday, a New Year's day hangover, as a run of six victories on the spin were halted by Tottenham Hotspur, who overturned United 2-1 on their own patch, at Old Trafford.
United have now lost six games in the Premier League, conceding 24 goals from 20 matches and it will test David Moyes' managerial capabilities to ensure the Spurs slip-up was just a blip, rather than a return to the poor form suffered at the start of December, or throughout September.
The Scotsman, though, is burdened by injuries.
Phil Jones is absent with a knee injury, Marouane Fellaini has no return date while Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney both have complications that could prevent them from participating against Chelsea on January 19, a trip to Chelsea that could either rejuvenate United's push for a place inside the top four, or put a significant dent in it.
Rooney completed 90 minutes against Spurs, but Moyes reflected that this may not have been wise considering he is carrying a groin injury. The player's long-term status may be jeapardised, as the manager insinuated that Rooney may play through the pain barrier as games are 'coming thick and fast'.
On the club's official website, Moyes confirmed: 'The plan was to play Wayne for 90 minutes, but he has a bit of a groin injury. The longer it went on, we had to try to get more attacking players on the pitch to try and find more ways to score. If I could [rest him] I would, but the games are coming thick and fast.
'He has missed a game with his groin and he may well miss some more coming up.'
Where Moyes rests Rooney will show where the club's priorities lie. An FA Cup third round tie awaits them against Swansea City on Sunday, a League Cup semifinal pitches them against Sunderland on Tuesday, while a Premier League encounter against Swansea lies ahead on Saturday week, all prior to the Chelsea clash.
Physioroom.com foresee a January 11 return for Robin van Persie, but when asked if the Dutchman would be ready within the next ten days, his reply was that he was not sure.
With two elite-level attackers both suffering dubious fitness, this can only bode well for their opponents over the next few weeks…
image: © nasmac