Wednesday, November 28, 2012

United 1 - 0 West Ham

Well, that was boring, wasn't it? RVP scored barely a minute into the game and, just like on countless of other occasions when United score that early, I expected our players to hammer the Hammers with a barage of goals. Unfortunately our players left their shooting boots at home since, out of 23 attempts, our boys in red only mustered 3 decent shots that caused some concern for WestHam's goalie. Last year's curse of scoring very early and then struggling to get the second, hit us again tonight!

Rooney's shots, bar one, were awful. He didn't get much joy in today's game. Cleverley wasn't any better. Chicharito managed to do some decent work but wasn't as effective as he would have liked. The same could be said about Robin. The turn leading to his goal eas brilliant but I can hardly recall anything else he did that was fitting of his world class status.

Anderson was't that bad. Actually, he wasn't bad at all. Carrick played well without being spectacular. Well, he hardly ever does spectacular stuff. Our best performers were undoubtly our defenders. Rafael, probsbly my man of the match, defended brilliantly. His crossing left much to be desired though. However, he had WestHam's left winger in his back pocket all night. Evans continues to demonstrate his improvement as a defender week in week out, while Smalling was quite confident at the back. I can't really remember what our left back, Patrice, did right today because he gave me one hell of a fright at the end of the game and that is all I can remember. Lindegaard was alert on the few times he was tested.

A win is a win, no matter how dull the win is. We're still top of the table with Chelsea dropping more points. Our neighbours are still a point away from us though. Looking at the bright side, I did ask for a cleansheet and finally we managed to keep one. The last cleansheet we kept was at Newcastle. That seems like ages ago! Anyway, I'm off. Short post today since my laptop isn't at my apartment and I had to make do with the iPad, which isn't exactly that comfortable when it comes to typing! Reading next, not an easy game.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

United 3 - 1 QPR


Lindegaard
Rafael Ferdinand Evans Evra 

Welbeck(Powell) Fletcher Scholes(Anderson) Young (chicharito)
Rooney RvP



Aaaaaaand another comeback, the 9th of the season. Top of the Premier League. 3 more goals. I ain't complaining.

I was quite pleased with the effort put in by our players. With the exception of Welbeck, Scholes and Young, I thought our players did well. The only problem was that we always wait for our opponents to score before we shift to second gear. That style might have worked on countless of times, but it won't work all the time, as we should've learned at Norwich. 

After letting QPR take a shock lead, our players produced some kind of reaction and managed to score two headed goals. Rooney was the supplier of both while Evans and Fletcher were the scorers. I was pretty made up for Fletch after he scored his goal. I always liked the determined Scot and today's goal was only a reward for not giving in to a career threatening illness. Well done Fletch! 

I don't think it was a coincidence that our goals came after Fergie took off the ineffective Young and Scholes. While I'd excuse Paul for having the odd bad game every now and then, I expect much much better from Ashley Young. He's been average since his return from injury. He needs to regain his confidence. On the other hand, a player who is definitely not short of confidence is Chicharito, who scored a very good goal today. He could have had at least another to his name but took the wrong, albeit unselfish, decisions when a direct shot would have been a better option. I know I've said this over and over again, but his link up play has seen a drastic improvement to the way he used to play since his arrival at United. His finishing has returned to its formal best as well. The commentator suggested that young Chicha will only get better. Well, let's hope he does! 

West Ham next. I expect a win and, maybe, a clean sheet. Or is it too much to ask? 

Facts:

  • Manchester United have conceded first in nine different Premier League games this season, a joint-league-high with QPR
  • Man Utd have the best conversion rate in the Premier League this season, scoring with 19.4%, while QPR have the lowest (7.6%).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Galatasaray 1 - 0 United


Lindegaard

Rafael  Jones  Carrick  Buttner
Fletcher Cleverly Anderson(Macheda)
Powell(Young) Chicha Welbeck(King)

Unlike last Saturday's defeat, I pretty much expected today's loss at the hands of Galatasaray. As expected, Fergie fielded an inexperienced side and, I guess, our young players did quite well. Cleverley, Macheda, Jones, Buttner, Rafael, Welbeck, Powell and King are all players who featured today and who are either in their early twenties or are still teenagers. Our oldest players on the field were 31 year old Michael Carrick and 28 year old Darren Fletcher, who's still coming to grips with the game after a long layoff. Overall I think our boys did well. Sometimes winning really isn't everything. Our young players have now experienced the depths of 'hell'. Giggs and Neville still recall how powerful their experience in Turkey, 18 years ago, proved to be for their footballing education. Let's hope our players left today's field a tad wiser. They surely can leave Turkey with their heads held high, they were playing against a team that just had to win the game. 

I was particularly pleased with Jones and Powell. Phil looked composed and focused and he barely put a foot wrong. Given the circumstances, Powell had a very good CL debut and was quite unlucky not to score. Another player who deserves a mention was our goalie who cleared everything that came his way bar their winning goal, which was unsavable. Our forwards combined well on some occasions but they gave no end result. Apart from the said moments of good play, they were average at best. Our midfielders were a tad  casual in their passing and never really created good opportunities for our strikers. I definitely expected better from the likes of Anderson and Clevz. 

It's not often we see United lose back to back games but we'll be just fine. We've got three 'easy' games coming up, from which I expect United to get the maximum points. Then we'll face City at the Etihad. Exciting times ahead. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Norwich 1 - 0 United


Lindegaard, 
Rafael, Smalling, Rio, Evra, 
Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Young, 
van Persie, Hernandez

I was quite busy during the weekend hence the late post.  

This was probably United's worst performance of the season as our players lacked any sort of ideas that could break a resolute Norwich defence. To be honest, we've played like this during most games this season but we always (bar the tottenham game) managed to get the result we needed. I've grown to accept the frequent bad spells our side is having during games, just because I know that at a point or another, one of our strikers will score. Not this time though.  All of our chances, all two of them, fell to RVP who failed to hit the ball on both occasions. Had he got some sort of contact with the ball, then we'd probably be looking at a different scoreline and a different league standing. Three losses after 12 games is not a good statistic but the league is still young and there's plenty of time to rectify the wrongs. 

Smalling put a number of decent challenges when Rio was totally outpaced but for the second game running, we conceded a goal from his side. Last week he was swatted aside by Benteke and yesterday he was outjumped by Pilington(not sure whether that's his name). If I'm honest, it was a very good goal. Now I'm not saying that had Evans been present, we wouldn't have conceded that goal, but I think we're actually missing Johnny. Evans is a very good ball player. 

Fergie Knows Best (but playing Giggs in CM won't get us anywhere)
Warning! More moaning. I'm not sure why Giggsy started in midfield. Although he could probably pass and cross better than Young, you cannot win these games with Giggs in central midfield. With Anderson, Cleverley and Fletcher on the bench, I can't fathom what was going through Fergie's head. Scholes would have been a better choice as well. 

Our wingers failed to produce anything decent all game long. Valencia took ages to decide whether to pass or cross while Young was simply ineffective. And this is what makes me fume. These two players, especially Young, could be very frustrating. Yet, they never get one tenth of the stick Nani gets. I agree, Nani is probably the most frustrating player to wear the United jersey, but I still believe that he's world class. He could beat a defender, either by pace or skill, and is a very good shooter and passer of the ball. However, one mistake and I have my facebook home wall bombarded with "sell him Fergie", "get him out" and all that nonsense. True, he does look uninterested this year. If that's up to being fed up at the club or maybe because he's experiencing a very bad spell, I don't know. All I know is that he carried us with his goals on a lot of occasions in the past. I can't see Young having the same kind of effect, not in the near future anyway. 

Difficult Game For Chicha
At the front neither Chicharito nor RVP imposed their authority on the game. The former showed that it's best for our club, as well as for himself, to start games on the bench and get the twenty odd minutes every game as a sub. He'll be more effective. RVP had an off day. We definitely missed Rooney. Rooney didn't play two of the three games we've lost this season. That says a lot. (Yes, yes, he played vs Tottenham but only after we were 2-0 losing. We absolutely destroyed Tottenham when he was on the pitch.) The guy is captain material. 

We've lost vs Everton, Tottenham and Norwich. We didn't lose a single point in last year's equivalent fixtures. Then again, we didn't win at Stamford Bridge last year so it's definitely not all doom and gloom. Thankfully Chelsea seem to be experiencing a tough period while I'm still not entirely convinced City's performances have been anywhere near last season's, although they thumped Villa yesterday.

I've managed to complain throughout the whole post, true, but that performance doesn't really deserve anything better. We'll have a couple of PL fixtures at OT that I expect us to win easily. We'll get back on track, I'm sure about it. Galatasaray next. Let's hope it's a good game and the red army get out of there in one piece. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Aston Villa 2 - 3 United

DeGea
Rafael Rio Smalling Evra
Valencia Scholes(Cleverley) Carrick Young(Chicharito)
Rooney(Anderson) RVP

Today's hero
Another game, another comeback. I don't think I have ever witnessed as many comebacks during one season as I've done during the current one....and we're still in November. I thought we were in absolute control of the game until the 44th minute but as soon as Villa scored their goal, they looked very confident. At two-nil I thought there wasn't enough time for us to come back but I was mightily wrong as United scored another vital 3 points. When our first went in, you just knew that we'd probably win the game. People might think that we're lucky but it's definitely not luck if you come back from a losing position this often! 

Game Positives? We're scoring for fun and the spirit shown by our players was impeccable  That's the United spirit I never grow tired of witnessing.  Negative? The thing that is annoying me this year is the fact that we're shipping too many goals. 

Chicharito was obviously today's man of the match. I've noticed that our Mexican looked like he improved his overall play and today's game was a testament to that. He scored two good goals which sandwiched a shot of his that deflected into Villa's net. However, the second goal was given as an own goal and Chicharito was certainly unaware of that as he paraded with the match ball at the end of the game. He must've been gutted when he learned that his second goal wasn't really his. That was his first 'hat-trick' in a United shirt! Oh well, there's always next time Chicha! Well played.

Rafael - Very Good Performance
A candidate for man of the match was also our goalie. He punched a lot of shots away from danger and also produced a stunning save midway through the second half. Our fullbacks had a great game as well. Rafael was excellent on the overlap while Evra made some important blocks. Our centre backs were shaky though. Young, Scholes and Carrick weren't at their best. Valencia made a lot of decent runs but his final ball was poor. Roo did well when he dropped deeper. RVP barely had a sniff of the ball but when he did, he rattled the bar twice and then produced an assist. 

These games might be pleasing for the eye but I don't think they're doing my heart any good. One day it will succumb under the pressure and, well, I'd probably be glad I died watching my beloved United. Bring on Norwich!

Facts:

  • Man Utd have come from two goals down to win on seven different occasions in the PL, with six of them away from home. 
  • Robin van Persie has hit the woodwork 4 times this season, more than any other player in the PL.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Braga 1 - 3 United

De Gea
Valencia Smalling Evans(Rio) Evra
Nani(Rafael) Anderson Rooney Giggs
Welbeck(RVP)
Chicharito

So United played for 10 minutes and still managed to win away from home. We were trailing up until the 80th minute in a game which was as interesting as an F1 race, i.e. very very VERY boring.  Even the floodlights gave up on the game and decided to call it a night barely an hour into the game. United were poor today but as soon as Rafael and our Dutchman stepped on the pitch, we did look like a changed side. They replaced the ineffective Welbeck and Nani. The latter looks disinterested. If I was a gambler, I would play a tenner on him being at another club by next season. 

Chicha's 6th goal of the season
Braga are a tough nut to crack in their back yard and they proved just that with an industrious display...until their goalie fucked it all up. On the 80th minute, their goalie was caught in no man's land and RVP concluded brilliantly from outside the box. I swear that was our first decent shot at goal. On the 80th minute! Four minutes later Rooney was floored inside the box and the referee justly awarded a penalty. After last Saturday's miss, I was a tad pessimistic about Roo taking the pen, but his shot today was inch perfect (although if you look carefully, he hit the ground). Chicharito managed to put some daylight between the two sides with the most bizarre of goals. He was barely 3 yards away from goal and instead of shooting, he made about one thousand five hundred touches before unleashing the weakest of efforts. He still managed to force the ball home whilst lying on the ground....quite fortunate, I must say, but they all count! 


We have won our group without really breaking a sweat. The upcoming CL games will be a perfect chance for youngsters to get a taste of European football, while the underperforming/injured players can get some minutes under their belt and, maybe, a morale boosting performance. Yes, by the word underperforming, I am referring to Nani. We can fully focus on the PL whilst City and Chelsea fight tooth and nail against their European opponents. Good stuff.

Two tricky away games in the PL next. They're both very winnable but these 'small' clubs have proven to be a banana skin on countless of occasions. Just look at what Celtic have just done to the mighty Barca! Come on United!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

United 2 - 1 Arsenal


De Gea
Rafael   Ferdinand   Evans   Evra
Valencia(Nani)   Carrick   Cleverley(Anderson)   Young
Rooney   van Persie

RVP did not want to celebrate but Roo was having none of it
The score doesn't really do our performance any justice. We were head and shoulders above Arsenal and I honestly cannot recall De Gea having to make save. They never threatened our goal, except when Cazorla scored a beauty in the dying seconds. On that occasion, our impressive defence went to sleep and when the ball rocked the back of our net, De Gea looked absolutely livid. It's been a while since he last kept a clean sheet! He had absolutely no chance of saving Cazorla's shot. 

Anyhow, I'm quite glad with our display today. We showed some fine football at times and if it wasn't for our wasteful strikers (and of course some good saves from their goalie, whose name I forgot) we could have easily scored 3 more. In fact Fergie bemoaned our missed chances in his post-match interview. I was particularly impressed with Evra today. Amazingly, he scored another good header today and even more jaw-dropping is the fact that he never put a foot wrong during the game. It's been a while since I said that about our Evra, so well done to him. Rooney put in another lung busting midfield performance but his penalty was very very poor. We've missed so many penalties this year that I've lost count. Is it 5 penalties missed? Not sure. 

Missed 2 sitters. But found the net early on. 
Van Persie scored the goal which seems to confirm that the curse of conceding the early goal is finally over. We're now imposing that curse on the opposing teams. Scoring first is obviously a safer bet but I kind of miss witnessing a comeback every weekend! Hah! I was a tad worried with the performances of Carrick and Cleverley today. They played the ball too casually at times and, to some extent, I accept that a naive Cleverley will misplace the odd pass or two, but I don't expect a brilliant passer of the ball, i.e. Carrick, to play all those sloppy passes. Our wide men played well without shifting into an upper gear. Valencia had the beating of Santos all day long but our Tony didn't take full advantage. Anderson was another huge (excuse the pun) positive out of this match. His cross-field passes were almost Scholes-esque. After last Wed's performance, I hope that this is not just another false dawn and he finally full fills the potential that Fergie certainly believes he has. All our defenders had a good game but the stand out performer out of the back four was Evans. He was brilliant. Rock solid. 

The game was a far cry from the past United vs Arsenal games. United played quite well but Arsenal are poor...very poor. Their strike force isn't really a force. Wilshere was probably their best player, but he was justly sent off for two yellow cards. Their defence is OK but they just don't create any chances up front. Maybe that's the reason why our defenders had an excellent game at the back. Even though they conceded 8 against us last season, I think they were a better team last year. They will struggle.

We are now on top of the league since Chelsea slipped against Swansea. We'll probably stay at the top unless City win their game by more than 3 goals. Bring on Braga. 

FACTS

  • Arsenal registered their first shot on target against Manchester United in the 92nd minute of the match (Giroud).
  • There have been 10 pens in the PL games between Arsenal & Man United in the Wenger era, all at Old Trafford & 6 have been missed.
  • Manchester United have scored in their last 53 Premier League home games in a row, an all-time PL record.
  • Robin van Persie has scored seven goals and three assists in nine Premier League appearances for Manchester United

Credits