Drama, giant killings and a good ol’ bit of that cliché ‘magic of the cup’ return as the FA Cup opened its doors to the Premier League last weekend.
And, in traditional fashion, Manchester United proved they can never be written off as they once again turned around a result in their favour to rescue their third round tie at West Ham United in the dying minutes.
Robin van Persie’s 20th goal of the season ensures the sides will fight for a place in the fourth round during a replay at Old Trafford – and it was the third time this season he has scored an injury time goal to change a result.
The Flying Dutchman is proving to be the difference between United and their neighbouring title rivals Manchester City – a point emphasised by his stoppage time winner in yet another dramatic derby.
Having joined from Arsenal in the summer for £24million, the 29-year-old scored a hat-trick against Southampton in September with his third goal coming in the 91st minute.
Van Persie’s late showings this season has helped the Red Devils take a seven-point lead over their bitter rivals and could see Sir Alex Ferguson’s side lift the Premier League in May.
Should that happen, it would be an ironic twist of fate given how they lost the title last season after Sergio Agüero’s 94th minute winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day.
City themselves have been no stranger to last minute hysterics – this season alone, they have scored six times in the final ten minutes of a game.
But Roberto Mancini’s side are six points worse off than they were this time last year and are lacking the edge that saw them clinch the title.
It is also a cruel sight for City after Van Persie allegedly rejected a move to Eastlands in favour of Trafford.
City have only scored 41 goals in the league this season which is 16 less than after 21 games last season – another ironic comparison given Van Persie’s 16-goal tally this campaign.
The Blues have failed to find a consistent goalscorer with Edin Džeko (nine) topping their goalscoring charts with – despite only starting seven games.
And with last season’s top scorer Agüero currently sidelined with a torn hamstring and Carlos Tevez seemingly misfiring, City look out of ideas.
It’s times like these Mancini would prefer to turn to an experienced, proven goalscorer in Van Persie – instead he has Mario Balotelli as his only other option.
The striker’s latest spat with Mancini was splashed across the back pages but despite his manager’s claim that the 22-year-old will get ‘a hundred chances’, Balotelli has yet to prove his worth on the pitch.
Balotelli followed up a 17-goal haul last year with an impressive Euro 2012 but has only scored one league goal this year and seems to cause more problems than solve them.
You can have all the funds in the world but money can’t buy a goal and it certainly can’t buy a win – but it can buy Van Persie and potentially a title – just ask Fergie.
Picture courtesy of Yahoo UK, with thanks