Saturday, December 29, 2012

United 2 - 0 WBA

DDG
Smalling Evans Vidic Evra
Valencia Carrick Cleverley(Scholes) Young
Welbeck Kagawa(RVP)

After a good first half, our boys got complacent and thought that the game was already won. WBA huffed and puffed to get themselves level during the second period but a great goal from RVP sealed the issue late on.

We scored 8 minutes into the first half, Young crossed the ball and WBA's defender flicked the ball into his own net. When we score that early, I always expect a goal fest to follow. Unfortunately, the barrage of goals I expect never really ensues. When we score really early, we almost always shut shop. That ensures we experience some very tense minutes. However, as long as we get the three points, I'm not complaining!

The defence was excellent. We managed to keep the third(correct me if I'm wrong) cleansheet of the season. Yes, out of 20 games, we managed only our 3rd clean sheet. That is a very poor record, if I'm honest. Anyhow, we're top of the league and that is the only record that really matters. I can't say our defence did anything wrong. Our strikers worked their socks off while our central midfielders kept the game ticking. HOWEVER, I'm really disappointed with our wingers. Young was so and so but Valencia was poor, very poor. It's almost obvious that he prefers playing with Rafael because when he plays with either Jones or Smalling, there seems like there is no cohesion whatsoever. Furthermore, that extra second or two Valencia takes to make his mind up is driving me nuts. He was in decent positions on a number of occasions but his delay to play the ball gave plenty of chance for the opposition to recuperate. So far, this definitely wasn't Antonio's season. Must try harder. 

Getting into the new year with a 7 point advantage is obviously an excellent position to be in. The level of the PL seems to have decreased a tiny bit though. We haven't really been setting houses on fire, yet we're on top of the PL. Whether we've lowered our standards or the 'lower' teams have upped their efforts needs to be seen. However, I get the feeling that the top teams aren't really indestructible. Anyone could win. It doesn't matter if you're playing City or United, neither are unbeatable, anyone could get away with the three points. This obviously promises an exciting prospect for any neutral out there, and a hard time for the hearts of millions of reds scattered around the world. We've managed to live through a pretty turbulent 2012, let's hope 2013 sees us adopt a more convincing style of play were our players win games without jeopardising the health of their followers. 

2012 will definitely be a year I'll never forget. Being a whisker away from winning the league and then having to bear the horrible sight of Tevez holding our trophy, is something I long to forget. The annoying vision of the "brave" Terry parading around a stadium in Munich with the European cup is also another sight I hope my mind erases from its internal memory. Only a successful year from United could make the pain felt in 2012 disappear. So here's to a brilliant new year! Come on United!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

United 4 - 3 Newcastle

DDG
Smalling Rio Evans Evra
Valencia Carrick Scholes(Cleverley) Giggs
Chicharito(Fletcher) RVP

The harm these performances are doing to my health is probably huge. However, there's no denying that winning games in such a way leaves the sweetest of after tastes. It has become inevitable. You score, we hit you back....and then sucker punch you at the death. United trailed the barcoded United THREE times during the game. Still, we managed to win the game. Oh it feels so great supporting Alex's men! 

Chicha Scored Another Winner
BUT this was a very very weak performance. Sir Alex would be, in my eyes, the man responsible had the catastrophe of getting beaten by Newcastle at home happened. Why on earth were Giggs and Scholes both in the starting XI?! While I admit that Scholes' passes are still brilliant, I just don't think that they should be both on the same pitch at the same time. Our midfield was all over the place until Cleverley replaced Scholesy. And guess what? We looked miles better with young Tom at the heart of our midfield. He hackled down Newcastle's players and that left space for Carrick to spray the passes. Carrick's pass that lead to the winner was world class. Absolutely brilliant.

He Scores Goals Galore, Johnny Evans
Evans and Evra, again, found the back of the net against Newcastle. These two are scoring for fun. Unfortunately, Evans made an own goal minutes after scoring at the other end and that looked like it destroyed his confidence for the afternoon. With the exception of Evra, I don't think any of our back four had a good game today. The 3 goals conceded are a testament to that. I'm not sure what's wrong but we're conceding tooooo many goals.

At the other end, our strikers had a decent game. RVP scored his 16th of the season while Chicharito scored the winner after missing a couple of very good chances. That's what strikers do, so I'm not complaining. With respect to the wingmen, I know I've slated Giggsy but I actually think he had a better game than Valencia. Still, Giggs and Scholes on the same pitch at the same time should never ever happen again. Unless we win the League in April with a handful of matches to spare, that is. 

Am I delighted after the win? Yes, I am. Loved the manner of the win? Yep! Worried about our defending? Definitely, but we're getting the points and as long as that happens, I won't be complaining. 7 points clear as City slip yet again. Oh wonderful Christmas time! 

FACTS:
  • 24 of Man Utd's 46 league points this season (52%) have come in games in which we've trailed.
  • Robin van Persie has now scored 61 goals in his last 74 Premier League appearances.
  • No defender has scored more Premier League goals than Patrice Evra this season.
  • Before 2012-13 Man Utd had only scored 7 own goals at Old Trafford in 20 PL campaigns. This season we have 4 already. 
  • Jonny Evans is the 3rd player (after Rooney & Bale) to score at both ends in a PL game this season. Only happened twice in 11-12. 
  • Man Utd have now won 18 and lost just one of our last 21 Boxing Day fixtures and we have won the last nine in a row
  • Before today, Since the start of last season Man Utd have lost two of the six Premier League games that Giggs & Scholes have both started. That is 33.3%. Not a good record.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Swansea 1 - 1 United

DDG
Jones Vidic Evans Evra
Valencia(Chicharito) Carrick Cleverley(Scholes) Young
RVP Rooney(Giggs)

I knew this was going to be a difficult game. I sensed that we might drop some points today. I was right  when it comes to the dropped points but the game wasn't difficult at all. United battered Swansea. We hit the bar twice and had a couple of decent shots blocked. The second half was all about United. Unfortunately, our strikers had a stinker and failed to make the right decision when in the final third. BUT this was a good performance nonetheless. United deserved much better. 

Evra, again, headed home a corner by RVP. I can't fathom how a player who's about as tall as me (I'm often referred to as 'the dwarf' by my friend Matthew) is managing to get in those positions. It must surely be something the players have been practicing in training. I don't believe it's a coincidence that our  Patrice is getting in those positions every odd game. I've also noticed some improvements in his overall play, especially on the overlap. Finally. 

I can't really find any faults in our defence. We looked solid. Our midfield functioned well. BUT there was a certain Wayne Rooney who looked rusty today. Had he been on song, I've no doubt that we would be celebrating another win. Maybe he ate a mince pie too many? I will obviously forgive him. He's the most important player in our squad, anyone could have a day off.

We're still sitting at the top of the tree. Let's hope we get the three points on boxing day and head into the new year with the advantage we're currently enjoying. I'm off. Until Wednesday, I hope you lot have a happy Christmas! 

FACTS
  • Wayne Rooney lost all 12 of his 50/50 contests vs Swansea; only Adel Taarabt has also done this in the PL this season.
  • Robin van Persie has hit the woodwork six times in the PL this season, more than any other player and more than 10 teams. 
  • The only player to score more headed goals in the Premier League than Patrice Evra (3) this season is Michu (5).
  • Man Utd have now scored 10 goals from corners in the Premier League this season, more than any other side

Saturday, December 15, 2012

United 3 - 1 Sunderland

DDG
Jones Rio(Vidic) Smalling Evra
Valencia Carrick(Scholes) Cleverley(Giggs) Young
Rooney RVP

And we get another three points as we head into the festive period enjoying a 6 point lead. The first half performance was probably the best football I've seen United play this season. It was truly a joy to watch. Usual suspects Rooney and RVP both got their name on the score sheet but the pick of the bunch was Cleverley's delightful curler. All three goals followed an excellent build up.

Beautiful Curling Effort by Cleverley
Young looks like he's hitting top form. He created another goal today and was threatening when attacking. On the other flank, Valencia wasn't bad either. However, I still expect more from him. It seems like Cleverley and Carrick have finally formed a very good partnership in the middle of the park. They've been quite composed in the games they've played together. As soon as this partnership was broken, that is when Scholes and later Giggs entered the field of play, our defenders had very little protection and we were all over the place. In fact, Sunderland managed to get a goal and were unlucky not to get another. De Gea was brilliant throughout. 

I also liked Jones' and Smalling's performance today and it was a quite a relief to see Vidic back in action. If he manages to hit top form we should be ok this season. Granted that he rediscovers his past form, him and Evans should be our first choice centre backs. 

The only downside to this game, apart from the total collapse after the 75th minute mark, was that our strikers were too wasteful in front of goal. We could have easily won this game by 2 or 3 more goals. But it's ok as long as we won. At least United managed to reinstate a smile to my face after a pretty miserable weekend. These boys rarely let me down. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

City 2 - 3 United

De Gea
Rafael Rio Evans(Smalling) Evra
Valencia(Jones) Cleverley(Welbeck) Carrick Young
Rooney RVP

Woah! My heart is still at the races. We were cruising by half time. City only really threatened our goalie on a few occasions and we looked very dangerous on the counter attack. But one bad refereeing decision and it almost fucked up an impressive display away from home. At 2-0, Young scored a perfectly legitimate goal which was ruled out by the linesman. City were given a freekick and from the resulting action, they scored. Obviously no ABU opened his trap and uttered one single word about that refereeing decision. Had that been in our favour, a barrage of posts from people who support Liverpool, Chelsea, Inter, Milan and Juventus, of all teams, would have appeared on facebook. Oh well! 

My man of the match was Wayne Rooney. The guy's excellent. He worked his socks off and scored two goals. That challenge he made right at the death near our penalty area, pretty much describes our best player. He's willing to do the dirty work as long as his team wins. Captain material. I thought RVP was pretty unanimous. He 'only' did three things; Started the move for Roo's first goal, rattled the post and scored the winner. Not bad, eh? 

This was also Young's best performance of the season. He produced Roo's first goal and was very unlucky not to score his first of the season. Actually, he did score but the linesman decided that he was offside. Carrick kept the ball moving, like he always does and I thought Cleverley had a very good game as well. Valencia was a tad frustrating on the right. Our back four had a good game. Rafael and Evra defended well and were more than decent on the overlap. In fact, Rafael got an assist to his name. Evans was doing very well until he got injured. His replacement, Smalling, was solid.  Rio was excellent, except on that one occasion when he lost the ball very cheaply and City almost scored. And finally, De Gea was very impressive. A mention should also go to late sub Welbeck who won us that late late freekick with his pressure on Zabaleta. 

The later the goals, the sweeter the feeling
Overall I'm obviously delighted. City hadn't lost a game at the Etihad for 2 years. I'm not sure whether that feat includes CL and FA Cup games as well. If that's the case, we did what Real Madrid and Dortmund didn't manage to do. It was an impressive performance by our boys. We've won away to Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea and City this season. The strange thing is that we're looking pretty weak against the so called inferior sides. Anyway,  a 6 point lead is obviously a very good lead to take into the crucial Christmas period. Long way to go until May, league titles aren't decided in December. But I would have been immensely happy with a draw today, never-mind the three points. This match should be a springboard to greater performances. Psychologically, our players should feel like they can beat anyone. True, City aren't what they were last year, but they're our closest challengers and that win was super sweet. Bring on Sunderland!

Facts

  • Man City's run of 37 home games unbeaten has come to an end, that run starting on 20 Dec 2010 with a 2-1 defeat to Everton. 
  • Man Utd have won 86 of the 88 PL games in which they were exactly 2-0 up at half-time, losing none.
  • Five of the previous six PL meetings between Man City and Man Utd at the Etihad have ended in a 1-0 scoreline

Thursday, December 6, 2012

United 0 - 1 Cluj

I'm only updating my blog now because I left home yesterday morning and returned just now. My final year at University is proving to be quite hectic!

Not much to write home about. It was a tedious game during which none of our players managed to impress me. With the exception of Jones and maybe Wooton, who didn't do much wrong, I was quite disappointed with our players. I definitely expected more from Rooney, Buttner, Powell and Cleverley. Our players were only playing Cluj who aren't what I'd call world beaters. 

Anyway the game didn't have much significance. We secured top spot a fortnight ago. To be honest though, I don't see us progressing much more in this competition. Our defence has been ridiculed by the likes of Reading, I don't want to imagine what would happen if we were to face Bayern, Real or Barca. Unless we stop leaking goals for fun, we've got absolutely no chance of progressing much further in this competition.

BIG BIG game this Sunday. I'm not too disheartened. City haven't looked like last year's team, but our defenders need to be totally focused. No shit sherlock, I can almost hear you say. With the exception of Yaya Toure, I don't think their midfield and defending players are that powerful. However, I've got to admit that in Aguero, Dzeko, Tevez and Balotelli, they possess one of the finest attacking quartet in the world and that's what worries me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reading 3 - 4 United

Lindegaard
Rafael(Smalling) Rio Evans Evra
Fletcher Carrick Anderson(Jones) Young
RVP(Welbeck)
A clear RVP goal wasn't seen by the linesman. United buy referees, they always say.
Now we're really taking the piss. Our players managed to get back from behind TWICE and did so in the space of a few minutes. Just when I thought that I've seen it all this season, we managed to let in three goals against a side sitting dangerously close to the bottom of the table. All their goals were scored before the 30 minute mark. The most satisfying aspect of the game is that our players never panicked, even when trailing, and managed to score enough to win us the game. In reality we should have won the game by a bigger margin, but the four goals will do, as long as they bring home the 3 points. However, just as we learned last season, the missed chances could cost us dearly if the title is decided by goals difference....but that ain't happening again. I'm willing to bet my left eyeball on that occurrence not happening any time soon.

Rafael was disappointed when subbed off
Let's start from the bad side of the game. The defence! None of our defenders, the goalie included, were up to the task yesterday. Evans and Rafael, our best performers this season, had a nightmare of a game. Rafael made rash tackles and was duly taken off before he got himself sent off. When he got booked, I told my friends that Rafa will be having an early shower today. Thankfully, Fergie subbed him off before he put us in more misery. All their goals came from players that Evans should have been marking, so he really had a bad game today. However, he managed to pick himself up and had a decent second half. Evra was very good on the overlap and managed to set up Rooney's second. His defending was on the verge of decent, though. Substitute Smalling was probably the best out of the bad bunch. 

Young approves Anderson's celebration
Our midfield had an on and off evening. Fletcher tried hard, very hard, but never really got into the game. Anderson was having an excellent game but, just as I had predicted, he got injured half way through. This fella cannot handle two starts on the trot. It's a pity that whenever he looks like getting near his predicted potential, he gets injured. He scored a scorcher today. It's a shame he had to offset the goal's beauty with an awful celebratory dance. Maybe that dance is bringing him the stinkiest of lucks in the world! Unlucky. I couldn't really comprehend why Fergie sent on Jones instead of Anderson, when there was Cleverley at his disposal. Jones didn't really bring anything to the team. Carrick kept the midfield ticking over while Young, compared to his most recent performances, had a decent game. His flick that set Evra free for Roo's goal was a joy to behold. Plenty of room for improvement though.

Rooney, my man of the match, managed to get back to scoring and got himself a brace while RVP scored a goal, which was beautifully set up by Roo, had a clear goal disallowed and missed an absolute sitter. 

A very strange game. I don't think I have ever seen United get involved in a 7 goal first half. It was undoubtedly a great game for the neutral, but I'm no neutral and winning these games by one goal will someday be the cause of my demise. My heart has been skipping beats for fun this season! With all of our rivals dropping points, we now have a 3 point lead heading into the Manchester Derby. 10 points away from us, lie Chelsea and Tottenham. Unless something of biblical proportions happens, this will be a two horse race. Let's hope we get something at the Etihad. City aren't the force they were last season. By this stage last season, they had scored 20 more goals! We're well capable of beating them, but if our defenders don't show up, then we won't be getting much joy. Thankfully, our 3 point lead puts us in a position were we could afford a slip up. Dead rubber game next, vs Cluj. Good opportunity for the youngsters to get a taste of what European football is about.

FACTS
  • 21 of the 36 points (58%) that Man Utd have won in the Premier League this season have been won from losing positions.
  • This was the sixth occasion in 2012 than Man Utd have scored 4+ goals in a PL game – more often than any other side.
  • Reading v Man Utd is only the third match in Premier League history to see seven first-half goals.
  • Manchester United had never conceded three goals before the 24th minute in a Premier League game before.
  • Wayne Rooney’s penalty was the 1000th goal that Manchester United have scored in the Premier League this century. 
  • No side have conceded the first goal of the game more often than Man Utd (10) in the Premier League this season.

Credits