Saturday, March 19, 2011

United 1 - 0 Bolton

Brown(Fabio) Smalling Evans(s/o) Evra
Valencia Carrick Giggs Nani
Rooney Chicharito(Berbatov)

A goal late in the game, when we were a man down, gave us the much needed three points. My legs still ache after all the frantic jumping I performed when we scored the winning goal. I haven't shouted so much in ages!

It wasn't the best of performances but at this stage(actually, at any stage) it's the points that count and we got what we wanted. Bolton's defence was a tough nut to crack and their strikers did their utmost to trouble our inexperienced centre backs. Brown, Smalling, Evra and Fabio did well but Evans had a miserable game. He failed to win a header and was sent off for a very clumsy challenge.

Today's Hero Berbatov
I was foaming over the prospect of seeing both Nani and Valencia tear Bolton apart but they both failed to live up to the pre-match hype. Don't get me wrong, they did OK but I expect better from a player of Nani's calibre. Valencia, on the other hand, needs more time to get back to his former best. Carrick and Giggs did well to help our defence but weren't really creative when it came to attacking. As my friend pointed out, Carrick rarely passes to players in a more advanced position. At the front, Rooney had another good game. He could have scored  a beauty and was the only threatening player from our side, especially during the first half. Our Mexican starlet had an unusually quiet game and was withdrawn during the half time break as Sir Alex, watching the game from the stands, summoned Berbatov who scored the winning goal.

All in all it was an OK performance but we are more than able of playing better than that. However, to be fair, our work was cut out by a disciplined Bolton side, a side which deserves the 7th place it is currently occupying. They could have scored on a couple of occasions but we were unlucky not to be awarded a clear penalty, so lady luck turned her back on both teams today!

Meanwhile, the gunners failed to beat WBA and that has put us in a more comfortable position but it ain't over till the fat lady sings. 8 steps to go...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

United 2 - 1 Marseille

O'Shea(Rafael(Fabio)) Smalling Brown Evra
Nani(Valencia) Scholes Carrick Giggs
Rooney Chicharito

Chicharito: Excellent Movement, Bargain of the Year!
So we are through to the quarter finals after a decent performance against a very physical team. We scored early in the game and looked miles ahead of Marseille during the first 30 minutes or so. I even had the audacity to think that we were going to stuff the French champions. However, United had to wait until the 75th minute to put the game to bed (that's what I thought at the time) and let me enjoy the game(just for 7 minutes). Alas, with the final whistle looming large, Brown committed an own goal and this guaranteed 10 tense minutes for the United faithful.

As I mentioned earlier we started brightly but faded out. This may be because our team consisted of Giggsy and Scholes who are on the wrong side of the 30's and may not have 90 minutes in them anymore. They did well and covered more than 10km each but looked really tired late on. Rooney had a very good first half but faded out as the game progressed. The other striker, Chicharito, had another terrific game scoring a brace and showing how excellent his movement is. I have seen a lot of strikers at United since '97 and I honestly think that Chicharito's movement is the best I have ever seen along with that of Solskjaer and Ruud. However, he cannot dribble and his touches are often poor so he needs to improve that side of his game.

Nani Disappointed Me
Nani disappointed me today. He failed to beat his man and never really got going. Meanwhile Valencia put in another good shift and his involvement was of great importance because he was part of the buildup that led to the second goal. Well done Antonio! Carrick and Scholes, although not brilliant, did well today. Carrick covered a lot of ground and that was good to see.

At the back Smalling and Brown looked a bit shaky. Brown committed an own goal but put in some decent hard tackles. However, there doesn't seem to be any kind of communication between the two and this was shown on a couple of times. Our right back players, O'Shea and Rafael, had to be withdrawn after they both suffered a hamstring injury. I guess Vidic will be fit for our next game therefore Brown will be played in that right back berth... his rightful place in my opinion. 

So we'll see on Friday who we'll meet next. However, we must perform better if we want to get through to the semis. To be honest with you I'd rather see us win the league and being realistic,  I don't  think that we'll win the Champions League this year especially if we keep losing players to injuries. Winning the domestic double would do though ;) Come on UNITED!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

United 2 - 0 Arsenal

Brown Smalling Vidic Evra(Scholes)
Rafael(Giggs) O'Shea Gibson Fabio(Valencia)
Rooney Chicharito

Fabio did well but ran out of steam after 45 minutes
I'm not going to lie, the line up raised both of my eyebrows. I thought that Fergie was sacrificing this game for Tuesday's crunch match vs Marseille. I also thought that Fergie had just admitted that we were close to being down to the bare bones. But I never learn to never ever in a million billion years question Sir Alex. Tomorrow I'm printing a placard with the words 'never doubt Fergie' and I'm going to glue it to my forehead. He never sends out a team that is not capable of winning the game.

Hands up if you think Fabio will score
The visitors started brightly but our players showed enough grit to overcome a nearly full strength Arsenal side. Fabio and Rafael ran their socks off with the former scoring the opening goal. At the back, Smalling and Vidic were exceptional. I've almost grown tired of saying, over and over again, that Vidic is a phenomenal defender but the rapid progress Smalling is showing is surprising me every time he plays. He didn't have a very good game last week, true, but with that game aside, he has barely put a foot wrong in his recent outings. I also thought that Brown had a good game. I'm not really confident in Brown when he plays as a centre back but when he plays as a full back he's a very good player. He's been getting a decent amount of game time recently and I'd love it if he stays with us. I like Brown and I also really like his chant! It's being sung a lot at the games and if you spend 2 hours with me you'll probably hear me sing it! 

Gibson and O'Shea, our central midfielders, did what they had to do. They contained Arsenal with the help of the excellent Wayne Rooney. He scored one and had a say in the other. His play today was brilliant. Chicharito had a decent game and could have scored a goal late in the game. At the other end VDS pulled off two stunning saves that really made me ask 'Why on earth is he retiring??' He could easily play for another two years!

It's good to see Valencia back. Very good comeback as well.
I obviously have to say a word about Valencia. His play today was simply a teaser of what we have missed during the past 6 months. Power, agility, crossing, you name it, he's got it (except for a good left foot that is). We missed him dearly and his return will be a massive boost for us. He played for 45 minutes and played extremely well. Welcome back Antonio!!!

Arsenal's supporters were blabbering about winning the quadruple a mere two weeks ago. Fast forward to Saturday 12th March and they have only one competition to play for. They laughed at us when we lost vs Liverpool and Chelsea but maybe it's our time to laugh at them for failing to beat us with O'Shea, Gibson, Rafael & Fabio playing in the middle. No wonder they couldn't muster one shot at goal vs the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Liverpool 3 - 1 United

Rafael(O'Shea) Smalling Brown Evra
Nani(Chicharito) Scholes Carrick Giggsy
Rooney Berbatov

Just looking at that scoreline hurts, it hurts an awful lot. However, I believe that Liverpool deserve the three points because they were better than us, much better than us, and saying that hurts even more. Our away performances this season have been below par but we reached a new low today with a performance that is not Manchester United worthy...heck that wasn't even Wigan worthy.

The ref had a good game today but should have sent both Carragher and Rafael off.  We've only got ourselves to blame after that disastrous first half performance. We didn't do an awful lot during the second half either but we started brightly only to have our hopes diffused by another Liverpool goal. Chicharito scored our goal but it was just too little too late. Their player Suarez is a handful. Very very good buy.

Another tough fixture has now been played and it looks like the game at the Emirates will decide the title. It will be a roller coaster of a run in and I just hope I survive it. Overall we were beaten fair and square and I honestly don't mind it. What pisses me off are games like that vs Chelsea. Anyhow, Liverpool fans will surely do their best so I don't forget today's game soon. They're laughing at us but hey, I know a certain idiom that says "he who laughs last, laughs longest"   COME ON UNITED!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chelsea 2 - 1 United

O'Shea Smalling Vidic(s/o) Evra(Fabio)
Fletcher Carrick Scholes(Giggs) Nani
Chicharito(Berbatov) Rooney

So we were unable to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge yet again. It's been 8 years now since our last victory! I thought we played quite well during the first half but Chelsea were evidently better than us during the second. Rooney scored another good goal but in the end it was not enough to give us the 3 points. The referee made some wrong decisions today that ultimately put the final nail in our coffin. Luiz should have been sent off and Smalling didn't move his leg in the penalty incident. Therefore I don't think it was a penalty! Honest, I'm not wearing my red tinted glasses.

I had a very good feeling about this game when Rooney scored that wonderful goal. I thought Chelsea where there for the taking and that our defenders could handle the ineffective ladyboy and the French git. But things went downhill during the second half with Chelsea dominating possession. Chelsea's strikers were still clueless but their midfielders got a grip on the game. Luiz scored a good goal but he should have been sent off later for a second bookable offense. With him, definitely their best player, getting sent off, the outcome of the game would have been much different. But then again, if Rooney had been justly sent off last week we might have lost to Wigan and he wouldn't have been on the pitch today. So basically that's how football works, lady luck decides who she smiles at. 

Our lead at the top will probably be cut to 1 point, but Arsenal usually bottle things so I'm keeping my faith in their unique ability. Today's result will mean that only one result will do on Saturday. Vidic will miss the Liverpool game after being sent off today and I guess that will mean that if Ferdinand isn't fit by Saturday, Evans will accompany Smalling. God forbid. I'm not feeling very confident about Saturday's game but heck I must believe in our boys(even in Evans). So COME ON UNITED! Till then I'll keep the red flag flying high! 

P.S. I'd also like to congratulate Chelsea on getting into the top 4. Massive massive achievement. Something to shout about at the library, er sorry, I mean stamford bridge.