Manchester United will endure the busiest stretch of the season without Wayne Rooney, who will miss the next few weeks with a knee injury. But the Red Devils still could put a seemingly insurmountable amount of space between themselves and their closest contenders for the English Premier League title by the start of the next normal work week.
United (15-3-1, 46 points) came from behind three times before Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez delivered a 90th-minute game winner in a wild 4-3 triumph over Newcastle during the EPL's annual Boxing Day set of matches. The result was all the more important as second-place Manchester City was upset 1-0 at Sunderland.
Only last weekend, Manchester City had gained ground with a 1-0 victory at Reading, while United dropped points with a 1-1 tie at Swansea City.
But if another set of results end like Wednesday's -- in favor of Manchester United -- it could begin the second half of the season with a double-digit lead over last year's champions. Both teams have two games in the next five days: on Saturday and, as is tradition, New Year's Day.
- Craig Stouffer