Wednesday, January 30, 2013

United 2 - 1 Southampton

Jones Smalling(Rio) Vidic Evra
Kagawa(Nani) Carrick Anderson(Rafael) Welbeck
Rooney RVP

So we have regained our 7 point lead at the top of the table. Our first half performance was decent but we were very poor during the second period. Our players were put under constant pressure throughout the game, so credit goes to Southampton who had a very good game plan. In fact, Southampton managed 20+ shots, the first team to do so at OT since we were humbled 6-1 by City.

Carrick and De Gea combined to make sure that we do not keep a clean-sheet. Two minutes into the game, Carrick played an under-hit pass to De Gea with the latter not really doing anything to distract the Saints' striker. To all the vultures ready to feast on De Gea's involvement in Southampton's first goal, I'm glad to say that it was mostly Carrick's fault, not De Gea's. Although, having said that, our Spaniard probably could have done something better. Anyhow, David looked a tad nervous in goal today and spilled what should have been a simple catch during the second half. He did produce a good save in the second half. Not his best of games though. 

Rooney scored two goals and could have grabbed a hat-trick. I don't know whether it's just me, but Roo looks like he lost a yard of pace. Nonetheless, he put a good performance and his tackle at the end of the game summed up what this player is willing to do for his team. He is constantly involved in the game while the other striker, RVP, is only alive on very few occasions. Granted, the few things Van Persie does are world class. Robin forced an excellent save out of Boruc and had a goal disallowed. Although the Saints had the most chances during the second half, United still had the best chances. 

Kagawa played well and was unlucky when he hit the post. He provided Roo with a good assist for the first. Smalling had a nervy game and was subbed off when Fergie saw that he was going to cost us the game. Another bad performer was Anderson. He was very poor today. I lost count of the amount of wayward passes he made. If I had to choose a man of the match, it would probably be Evra. He had a good game and also got an assist to his name. 

7 points clear. Away to Fulham next. Could be a tricky game...all away games seem to be tricky! Let's hope some of our underperforming players rediscover their form. We look like we have a couple of players experiencing rough patches. It's not a very good time to be out of form. Come on United! 

  • Wayne Rooney has now scored 27 braces in the Premier League, only Shearer (46) and Henry (34) have more. 
  • Patrice Evra now has five assists in the Premier League this season, as many as David Silva has managed in 2012-13. 
  • Manchester United have become the first team to win 300 Premier League home games. 
  • Man Utd's total of 27 comeback points in 2012-13 is bettered by only one team in PL history (Newcastle 34 in 2001-02)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

United 4 - 1 Fulham

Rafael Jones Smalling Evra
Nani Carrick(Scholes) Anderson(Kagawa) Giggs(Valencia)
Rooney Chicharito

The 'one man team' managed to score 4 goals today, without having that one man playing. Chicharito got himself a brace, Roo scored a scorcher while Giggsy opened the score from the spot. The score might suggest it was a good United performance but, up until half time, it simply wasn't. Whatever Fergie said during the half-time break worked wonders though. United were a transformed team in the second half. 

Our defenders did ever so well today. Jones and Smalling were solid while the fullbacks didn't do much wrong. These were the only players who performed throughout the whole 90 minutes. Most of the other players woke up after the break. So during the first 45 minutes, Roo was very poor, Chicharito was inexistant and, here's a new one, Nani was frustrating. Anderson was decent. On some occasions he manages to do things that are worthy of his nationality. On other occasions he manages to fuck up a promising move. But I like him. Giggsy was definitely the best performer in the midfield/attacking department. 

The second half started and something on the verge of miraculous happened. Nani was passing the ball and getting balls into the box. He was also beating their fullback. It was the Nani of old that convinced me that he's head and shoulders better than our other wingers. Let's hope this is not a false dawn. Let's hope he really rediscovers his form. We'll need him in the title run-in. At the moment I have lost all faith I had in Valencia. Chicharito got more involved, as the scoresheet suggests, while Rooney improved his first touch and helped build up moves. I'm extremely happy for Chicha and Roo, hopefully they can go on a run now.
Plenty of positives to take out of the game but, if I'm honest, we played a woeful Fulham side today. So there's nothing to be too pompous about. 

The fifth round draw will take place tomorrow. Let's hope we don't get a tough fixture! Southampton this Wednesday. I expect a win. Dare I predict a score? 3-1.

  • Manchester United have now won their last 11 games against Fulham in all competitions at Old Trafford
  • The last two times Man Utd have beaten Fulham at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, they have won the trophy (2004 & 1999).
  • In his last four starts against Fulham in all competitions, Wayne Rooney has scored five goals.
  • Javier Hernandez has bagged himself five goals in his last five games for Manchester United in all competitions. 
  • Ryan Giggs has scored twice in his last three starts against Fulham in all competitions

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tottenham 1 -1 United

Rafael Rio Vidic Evra
Welbeck Carrick Cleverley(Valencia) Jones
Kagawa(Rooney) RVP

Two points lost and now our lead at the top of the table has been cut to 5 points. Not a bad lead, if I'm honest, but it means absolutely nothing. Two bad performances and it's gone.

It wasn't a bad performance from the boys today. Our midfielders did very well and our defenders were brilliant. But it wasn't to be, at the end we conceded a 92nd minute goal. We've done it so often and now we had to get a little taste of our own medicine.

Tottenham probably deserved to get something out of the game as we relied heavily on our 1 goal lead. We were superb on the counter attack but spurned most, if not all, chances. Kagawa had a very good game in midfield while Welbeck's speed really helped us build our counter attacks. Unfortunately, when Welbeck is in the box he tends to hesitate. In fact, when in the box, he could have passed the ball to an unmarked Kagawa twice but failed to do so. Still, Danny ran his socks off and did really well. I guess we should start looking at him as a winger rather than a striker.

Our only goal was obviously scored by RVP. It followed some great team play and a delightful cross by Cleverley. Cleverley Jones and Carrick did very well in the central area. The latter, along with De Gea, were my Men of the Match. 

The only debatable decision of the day was when Roo was floored in the penalty box. Having seen it over and over again, I have no doubt in my mind that the ref should have awarded a penalty. I won't complain much though. In fact, I won't complain at all. Promise.

A point won or two points lost? Given the time we conceded it is definitely two points lost. City must've been licking their lips when they saw Dempsey score the equaliser. However, having seen City's upcoming fixtures, they've got a pretty tough schedule. They'll face Liverpool and Chelsea very soon, albeit at home, and then have some tricky away trips. Having said that, we've got our fair share of tough fixtures as well. At the end of the day, I'd rather be in our position than City's. FA Cup vs Fulham next. 

I'm off to study. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

United 1 - 0 Westham

Rafael Smalling Jones Buttner
Valencia Anderson(Carrick) Giggs Nani(Scholes)
Rooney Chicharito

God that was drab! The early goal made me believe that a very good display would ensue. That definitely wasn't a good performance but hey, we still won! At the end of the day that's what matters. Rooney scored the winner after a beautiful through-ball by Anderson and an unselfish square pass from Chicha. That was the best move of the match. 

Good Build-Up for the Goal
I was really looking forward for the return of Nani. Unlike a lot of people, I think that he's a player who could make a difference. He's willing to take people on and has a potent shot from outside the box. However, the excellent performance that I was expecting from Nani didn't happen. In fact, he reminded me how frustrating the guy could be. To be fair to him, he's been out since the 1st of November so the evident rustiness is a tad excusable. On the other wing, Valencia wasn't better than Nani. We're a team renowned for wing play and currently we've got 3 wingers who are off-form. Worrying. 

What's even more worrying is Roo fading out of the game after a decent start. He wasn't at his best today. He also sent a penalty sky high when he could have calmed the game down. I've heard he missed 40% of his penalties for Man Utd. With RVP in the team, that will definitely be Roo's last penalty. 4 misses out of every 10 penalties is not a good stat. I could do better. Roo's strike partner, Chicharito, ran his socks off but was caught offside on a lot of occasions. His brilliant run created the goal though. 

Bright Start by Ando, but Faded Out
The defence did well. Not much to complain about. Central midfield? Anderson started really really well. He was willing to run for the ball and created spaces for his team mates. His passes were almost Scholesesque. After the half time break, he was anonymous and eventually ran out of steam and was replaced by the composed Carrick. That leaves us with Giggsy. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. How a 40 year old could be 10 times as effective as Nani, Valencia, Anderson and Rooney combined is beyond me. The effort the guy put in today was incredible. Man of the match. 

So we've won our replay after a pretty poor performance. This followed the original match which we managed to draw by a goal scored very late in the game. Sometimes when these things happen in cup football, you get the feeling that it could be your year. Well, let's hope so. It's been an awful long time since we won the Fa Cup! 

What next? Well on a personal note I've got sleepless study nights on the agenda. This is my final year at University and my exams start this Saturday. But I'm sure most of you don't give a damn about that. Ok then, on Sunday we'll be playing Tottenham. Not too optimistic. They won at Old Trafford and they'll probably feel they could beat us again. We'll see. 

p.s. what the heck was that 10 second countdown to half time? Cringeworthy. 

Instead of boring you with the usual stats, I'll paste some of the funniest tweets I found today. Enjoy, they're probably more entertaining than the game itself (that says a lot about the game).

News coming through that Rooney's penalty has taken out a helicopter in London

WARNING: Wayne Rooney's penalty is still travelling through the UK, only leave your house for emergency purposes   (quite predictable, I know)

Nani is like a drunk Cristiano Ronaldo 

I'd rather have Stephen Hawking on the wing than Nani! #4wheeledgenius

Sunday, January 13, 2013

United 2 - 1 Liverpool

Rafael Rio Vidic(Smalling) Evra
Young(Valencia) Carrick Cleverley Kagawa(Jones)
Welbeck RVP

So we've done the double over our bitterest of rivals. If I'm not mistaken, the last time we won both seasonal fixtures vs. Liverpool was in the 07/08 season when we won 3-0 at home and 1-0 at Anfield. The first half was simply a joy to watch. Our players were almost perfect and if it wasn't for some erratic finishes, we could have easily scored a goal or two more by half time. What happened during the second half was a total collapse but overall, I think we deserved our win. 

RVP  opened the score with a well taken shot while Vidic, without knowing how, scored the winner. Evra should be given great credit for his role in both goals. This was the first time our Frenchman got two assists in a PL game. He's been an improved player this year. 

Man of the Match
Carrick was my man of the match. He made United tick. He's class. Cleverley did quite well too! This is our best central midfield combination. Unless it is an absolute necessity, Fergie shouldn't play around with our central players. Having said that, it was a tad worrying that we found it very tough when Liverpool put Suarez in midfield. After the hour mark, we lost the midfield battle and Fergie's intentions looked solely on seeing out the game. His substitutions definitely suggest so. 

RVP faded in and out of the game but scored a goal, had one shot cleared off the line and forced Reina into a good save late in the game. World class player. Welbeck ran his socks off but is still a tad hesitant when in front of goal. I still need to be convinced by Kagawa. He never gave the ball away, true, but he wasn't what I'd call effective. Young didn't have the best of starts and had to be subbed off because of injury. Valencia continued his stinking form this year. Let's hope Nani's return helps us be more effective on the wing. It's been a while since I've seen a good United wingman performance. Young did have a couple of good games this season but Valencia has been rubbish. I like Valencia but truth needs to be told. He hasn't been at the races this season. 

Our defence was excellent. Rafael, although caught ball watching when Sturridge scored, had a very good game. Rio and Vida were solid while Evra ran the show on the left. The game's commentators said that our goalie should have done better in the action that lead to Pool's goal. I'm not too sure about that though. Anyway, apart from that shot, DDG wasn't really tested. On the other side, Liverpool cleared two shots off the line and had their goalie perform two good saves to keep us within sight. So it was a deserved victory. I'm just a tad disappointed about our decline after the 60 minute mark. 

I expected us to be at least 9 points clear by the end of the day. However, my expectations were based on the assumptions that City were going to play Arsenal 11v11. Arsenal were justly decreased to 10 men barely 10 minutes into the game and there was only going to be one winner from then on, even though Kompany was sent off late in the game for City. It was too late for Arsenal. A 7 point advantage is a good advantage but after next weekend's game away to Tottenham, I fear we could have our lead cut to 4 points. City's upcoming games are all very winnable. West Ham next. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

West Ham 2 - 2 United

Smalling(Giggs) Vidic Evans Buttner
Rafael Scholes(Valencia) Cleverley Kagawa
Chicharito(RVP) Welbeck

Two excellent finishes by Cleverley and RVP sandwiched a brace by West Ham's Collins as the tie will have to be decided in a replay due to be played next week. 

United played well during the first half. Our players kept the ball quite well and West Ham were only threatening when they scored their first goal. It was a different story during the second half though as we only created some decent chances very very late in the game. Cleverley's goal was well taken and Chicharito did ever so well to create it BUT our second goal was of a different class. Giggsy, who had just missed a sitter, delivered an immaculate ball towards RVP and the latter produced the touch of the match and probably the finish of the game to force the replay. It's such a good feeling knowing that you have this great player in your squad!

Not much to say about the game apart from the fact that Valencia is getting on my nerves. He could have scored the winner today but instead produced a shot that any rugby player would have been proud of. Ever since he got that number 7 shirt, he's been abysmal. Pressure? Maybe. Oh, and I'm still not entirely convinced about that boy Kagawa. 

Anyway, I'm pleased we're still in the FA Cup but not entirely over the moon about the fact that we'll have an extra game to play. BUT the positiveness of still being in with a shout to win the FA Cup obviously offsets the burden of an extra game. Liverpool next! COME ON!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wigan 0 - 4 United

Rafael Rio(Smalling) Evans Evra
Young Carrick(Kagawa) Cleverley Giggs
Chicharito RVP

Yet another late post but I've just returned home after the game. All reds who travelled to the DW stadium must've arrived home before I did. Oh, and I only live 10 minutes away from the place where I watch my beloved United. WIth the exams on the door step, I am mightily good at wasting time! 

Soooo, what about the game? 4 goals and another clean-sheet. Not much to complain about! True, our boys were a tad careless on some occasions, but boy did they tear Wigan apart once they got going. Chicharito, perhaps with a touch of fortune, bagged a brace. Our other striker, RVP, got another two with the first being a sublime finish after some crafty work inside the box. Definitely a good day at the office for our strikers! 

Our wingers had a decent game. Giggs' passing highlighting the fact that he probably could pass a ball better than any of our wingers at club. If I add a handful of other players' names to the list, I surely wouldn't be exaggerating things. As long as he doesn't start the game when Scholes is in the starting XI, I won't complain. Carrick controlled the game and this was only evident once he got subbed off. As soon as Kagawa took Carrick's place, we were far less authoritative. Obviously we were still in control but with Carrick in the middle I felt like we bossed the game more. Cleverley wasn't bad either. 

Defence? Excellent. Evans and Rio were solid. Evra and Rafael did what they had to do i.e. defended well and bombed forwards whenever an opportunity arose. Goalie? Didn't do anything all game. That definitely demonstrated the good game our defenders had. To be honest, I wouldn't have expected any less against such a weak Wigan side.

3 more points. 4 more goals. Another cleansheet. Top of the league. 7 points clear. It feels good to support these excellent footballers.

New year, same passion. Football wise, 2012 was a shitty year. Let's hope 2013 sees us right the wrongs of 2012. That means we bring back our trophy home. I hope all you readers had a good start to the year and let's hope another good year lies ahead. Keep the faith in our boys, because they rarely let us down. Onwards and Upwards.

  • All 31 of Javier Hernandez's Premier League goals have come from inside the area
  • Wigan Athletic have failed to score in ten of the last 12 league games against Manchester United.
  • Javier Hernandez has scored six goals in six Premier League appearances against Wigan.