Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chelsea 5 - 4 United

He loves scoring against Chelsea! At least he was onside this time.
I didn't watch tonight's game because I had booked for a halloween event with my friends last week and at the time I had completely forgotten about the Capital One Cup clash with Chelsea. It took me some days before I realised I was going to miss the game and, well, I wasn't going to cancel. In all honesty, I didn't worry too much, after all it was "just the league cup". 

It seems that today's sets of players tried to re-create last night's astonishing game but were 3 goals shy from re-creating yesterday's epic at the Madejski Stadium.

I obviously would want United to win all their matches and all competitions they take part in. Having been leading until the 93rd minute, I'm obviously a tad gutted we didn't go on to win the game BUT I'm not too bothered. 

In the starting line-up, Chelsea had 5 players who started last Sunday's game while we only had one, Rafael. SUBS Ramirez, Oscar and Hazard were involved in the game during the second half as well while Fergie used Macheda, Tunnicliffe and Powell as subs. Huge contrast. So by putting things into perspective, I'm actually quite amazed that our team managed to put in a decent shift against such an experienced side. Giggs, Nani and Fletcher are all experienced players but compared to Chelsea we were a bit short of the experience needed to come out on top in such matches. WELL DONE LADS! 

Beautiful finish by Nani
I have watched the highlights and all three goals scored from open play were pretty good finishes. Nani's goal was probably the most eye pleasing goal of the bunch. It's also a joy to see Chicharito continuing his hot streak and I hope he gets involved during one stage or another vs the gunners. He seems to have regained his confidence back! 

It seems that Buttner, Wootton and Keane committed a mistake or two during the match but from what I've read, I guess they put in a good display against a pretty strong Chelsea side. 

We are now out of the League Cup. If I look at the bright side, it's one less cup to worry about and a lesser chance of more players getting injured. The gloomy side of the story is that we will probably have to wait until next year to see the likes of Wootton, Keane and Tunnicliffe play again. Oh, and we won't be returning to Wembley for another cup final on the 24th of February.

Arsenal next. Now that's a game I'd be hugely disappointed if we failed to deliver. I'll sure be watching!  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chelsea 2 - 3 United

DDG
Rafael Rio Evans Evra
Valencia Carrick Cleverley(Chicharito) Young
Rooney(Giggs) RVP

Finally we've broken the 10 year Stamford Bridge hoodoo. We managed to make Chelsea taste their first defeat of the season. Were we lucky today?Of course we were! I'd be one damn liar if I rejected that claim. The first goal we scored was comical and we got a decision or two in our favour. Luiz bummed (is that the term we use if you score with your behind?!) the ball into the back of net after some good play by RVP. Our Dutch striker was at it again by scoring the second and putting United in a relatively unknown position for this season. We actually had a two goal advantage 12 minutes into the game! WOW! 

Good teams like Chelsea won't just back down and they managed to get themselves on level terms by the hour mark. I expected that, to be honest. However the game swung back into our favour when RVP played a brilliant through ball to Young and the latter was floored by Ivanovic. The ref justly sent off Chelsea's fullback. Good decision. Up until then the ref was almost perfect (although he could have easily given our side a penalty when Luiz handled the ball inside the box). Then Torres was shown a second yellow for (allegedly) diving. It wasn't a dive, Evans should have been shown a yellow but instead the ref opted to send off Torres. Wrong decision

With a two man advantage we were obviously better than Chelsea and it was a matter of time when we were going to score. And indeed we did. Chicharito managed to tap the ball home BUT he was definitely in an offside position. That shouldn't have been a goal. But I really don't care. The Chelsea fans didn't give a rat's ass when they had an offside goal allowed against us some years ago. They won the league thanks to that infamous goal. Did they worry that they won the game 'illegitimately'? No. So should we feel pitiful for Chelsea? No chance. We're now one point behind them in the league and I'm obviously happy.

Chelsea again next in the league cup and then Arsenal visit OT. Come on United! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

United 3 - 2 Braga

DDG
Rafael Carrick Evans Buttner
Kagawa(Nani) Fletcher Cleverley Rooney
Chicharito(Giggs) RVP

United started the game on the wrong foot but managed to turn the result around, yet again. It's becoming a bit of a habit now and, as long as we keep winning, I don't really mind it. Whenever we concede first, I get an automatic feeling that we'll still win so I'm staying rather calm when we concede that 'inevitable' goal inside the first few minutes. Our boys definitely stayed calm. At two goals down, they worked wonders to turn the result in their favour, given that Braga cemented most of their players in their own half. 

This is becoming a common scene
The goals we conceded were quite sloppy. De Gea was especially furious when we conceded the second. On that occasion, Carrick's poor positioning showed how difficult it is for a midfielder to play as a central defender. If you're a central defender, you cannot get to the byline and let the opposing player get past you. As the game progressed, Carrick looked more confident and by the end of the game he was intercepting Braga's through balls for fun. His fellow central defender, Evans, had a good game and managed to score a goal as well. Johnny is getting in goal scoring positions and, unless he fluffs them all, I can see him getting a couple more goals during the season. Rafael keeps showing how much he has matured while, on the other side, Buttner showed that, with respect to his defensive duties, he has acres of room for improvement. He attacks brilliantly though.

I thought that both Fletcher and Cleverley played quite well albeit they did hesitate on a couple of occasions. Kagawa wasn't up to his best but still managed an assist before being substituted. It's been a while since I was pleased with Kagawa's performance. Rooney bust a lung for the United cause and his effort looked like it had taken it's toll on him. He looked exhausted by the end of the game. van Persie played some exquisite passes while Nani created some good chances but managed to frustrate me one time too many. 

Man of the Match
So this leaves us to the surprise of the evening: Chicharito. My man of the match. His first touch was astonishingly excellent, he hassled the opposing defenders and made them feel uneasy and his movement off the ball reminded me of his debut season. Oh, and he scored a brace. I like Chicharito but I was never a fan of his first touch, it always let him down. His instincts in front of goal are his main attributes but lately these instincts looked like they were letting him down as well. These two goals will do him the world of good and, to be honest, I'm quite relieved he managed to put in an excellent performance. Having 4 excellent strikers will not do any harm to our side.

The diamond formation didn't work. We were ten times better when a wide player was introduced. Fergie should take note of that and do his homework. On the other hand, I'm quite delighted with the character shown by our players to fight back. Massive massive game vs Chelsea next. I'm not too optimistic, especially if we let Chelsea get their noses in front inside the first 10 minutes. They have a pretty decent side back there. We'll wait and see.


FACTS
  • Jonny Evans has scored his first goal in the Champions League in what is his 22nd appearance in the competition.
  • United's victory over Braga sees them join Arsenal as the second team in Champions League history to win twice after trailing by two goals.
  • This is the second time Man Utd have won just a Champions League game after they have been two goals behind. Last time this happened was the infamous 3-2 result v Juventus in April 1999.
  • Manchester United have now scored in their last 19 European matches in a row.
  • Manchester United have conceded the first goal in eight of their 12 competitive games so far in 2012-13

Saturday, October 20, 2012

United 4 - 2 Stoke

De Gea
Rafael Rio Evans Evra
Valencia Carrick Scholes(Anderson) Welbeck(Chicharito)
Roo RVP

Our strikers were on song
Once again we started the game on a bad note but, just as I had expected, we recovered quite well and produced a very good attacking display. We're abiding by the "I can score more goals than you" policy and that, it seems, will be what we'll be witnessing during this season. We're vividly shaky at the back but boy we're really good up front. Roo and Welbeck scored two superb headers while RVP directed a very good Valencia cross into the back of the net. Our Rooney did get three goals to his name but unfortunately he put one of the goals into the back of our net. He did atone for that early error though by scoring a brace and producing a fine assist.

I will try and forget that we're letting in too many goals. We only managed two clean sheets during this year's PL but let's forget that and look at the bright side. Attacking wise we're just brilliant. You don't spend all that dosh on RVP and not expect to score at least a goal per game. We've averaged 2.6 goals per game and are currently the leading scorers in the PL. RVP has obviously got a say in that stat but apart from our newest addition, Roo and Welbeck were also on song today.  The former was involved in all 4 goals(5 goals if you add Stoke's first ;) )  and the latter scored his first of the season. Welbeck was unlucky not two add two more to his name. Well, to be honest, I think he SHOULD have got another goal or two to his name. 

Valencia on the right was his usual self, bulldozing his way through the Stoke defence and getting an assist as well. Scholes had a poor game, he could have easily been sent off while our other central midfielder, Carrick, was up to the task. Although I did say we're shaky at the back, I don't think the defence did much bad today either. Both the goals they conceded were the result of some luck for the visitors.

If I had to choose between last year's football, based on rock solid defensive performances and winning by a goal, and this year's football, I'd definitely choose this year's attacking performances. The problem is that against the really strong teams, we won't be given that much space to exploit should we find ourselves behind. We'll see what happens soon vs Chelsea. Braga next.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Newcastle 0 - 3 United

De Gea
Rafael Rio Evans Evra
Welbeck Cleverley Carrick Rooney(Scholes)
Kagawa (Valencia)
RVP(Giggs)

Good goal and a good performance by Johnny Evans
I expected this scoreline. However, I thought it'd be the other way round. I didn't feel confident at all going into this game, mainly because our defenders were having a torrid time lately. If we were going to score, I certainly didn't expect neither Evans nor Evra to be on the scoresheet. Further to that, seeing how shit we've been in corners, I definitely didn't expect our first two goals to be the result of two well taken corners. The most unlikely circumstances. If there was someone who played a tenner on Evans or Evra scoring, then he's one lucky sod. 

What ultimately won us the game was definitely Rooney playing in the middle of the park. Finally Fergie has realised that playing Giggsy in such matches is a no-no. Roo was excellent and he combined well with a very impressive Cleverley. The latter scored a peach of a goal, although if I'm honest, I think that was an overhit cross. If that goal was intentional, then fair play to him. I honestly don't give two flying fucks... as long as they go in. 

We've finally seen a very good Evra performance
I wasn't too impressed with RVP today. He looked agitated and was lucky not to get sent off. Welbeck had a good game but could have easily scored during the first half. Our weakest link lately has been our defense but they were excellent today. Every single one of them. Yes, that includes Evra. Rafael looks ten times the player he was last season while Rio and Evans barely put a foot wrong. Evra looked motivated. Apart from scoring a goal, he defended well against a very physical Newcastle side. More of the same PLEASE!

The only negative out of today's game was De Gea. When it comes to defending crosses, he's clueless and that's a tad worrying. I was quite surprised to see him starting the game as well. I knew Newcastle were going to target Ba and Cisse by crossing from the byline. Thankfully our Spaniard's rash decisions didn't cost us as we kept only our 2nd clean sheet in this year's PL. 

Regards Newcastle's 'goal', well I'm not sure what the rules say. If the rules say that the ball needs to be fully over the line, then it wasn't a goal. But I understand Newcastle's protests. That goal would have brought them back into the game. 

International break, then home to Stoke. Come on United!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cluj 1 - 2 United

DDG
Rafael Rio Evans (Wootton) Evra
Anderson Cleverley Fletcher
Rooney
Chicharito RVP


So we've managed to get another 3 points against a very average football team. Cluj's only intention was to defend and then try to produce a fast break. Amazingly, they only attacked our defenders a maximum of 5 times during the game and we still managed to concede a goal. This is becoming a habit now. We've only not conceded first in 3 games this season. (Vs Galatasaray, vs Wigan and vs Newcastle.) Although United managed to fight their way to the 3 points on most occasions, it's still a worrying fact. The big guns won't let us back in the game if they get in front!

Along Rafel, these were the best performers on the night
RVP scored a double and had a reasonably good game. His first goal was a fluke but the second was brilliantly taken. He also helped the boys at the back with great effect. More of the same please! My man of the match was Wayne Rooney. He had a free role behind our strikers and was terrific. Wayne got two assists and was involved in most attacks. His partnership with Cleverley was a big positive out of this match. With our midfield worryingly poor of late, Roo could easily play in a midfield role and make it his own. The problem is that the opportunity cost if such a decision is taken would be huge. Wayne up front will score goals but Fergie needs to choose between goals and a grip-hold of most games. With Wayne in the middle, I doubt whether teams would be given the opportunity to grab the game by the scruff like Tottenham did last Saturday. We'll wait and see.

Anderson and Fletcher played the ball well at times but its obvious that neither is match fit. I understand Fletcher's case but I'm not sure how on earth Anderson can't get match fit. Too many pies? Possibly.

Evra was pants. He doesn't deserve to wear the United shirt. He's oh so annoying. He plays like shit during most games and then gives interviews about how United need to improve and all that bull. During Vidic's absence, he'll probably be given the armband. He doesn't deserve it. I'd rather see Roo wearing it! 

It was evident that the instructions by Fergie (for most of the second half) were to pass the ball and waste time rather than go for the kill. A 2-1 scoreline is a very dangerous one and if it wasn't for De Gea, we'd easily be looking back at another Champions League let down. Welbeck, Rooney & Anderson all got in decent positions late in the game, only to turn back and pass the ball to whoever was following the action. Al-right we preserved the lead but that was a dangerous game to play. 

6 points, top of the table and I still complain. We're too spoilt! 

Newcastle away next. If Cisse and Ba were watching last Saturday's defensive display, then they've probably been licking their lips ever since. Let's hope we don't see last season's horror show. I'm not too optimistic though! 

Credits