Southampton 1 - 2 United

McNair(Herrera) Smalling(Evans) Rojo
Valencia Carrick Mata(Fletcher) Fellaini Young
Rooney RVP
Man of the Match
Not the best of performances but it led to 3 more points and put us in 3rd place, just above today’s opponents. Winning was imperative if we wanted to keep the pace with Chelsea and City. A loss would have put us further behind the league’s pace setters, four points behind Southampton and two points behind West Ham. Definitely not something we would’ve wanted.

It has been said time and again that our aim is to get into the top 4, such wins will put more light between us and the usual top 4 challengers Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool. The three are currently dropping points for fun so it’s good news for us. I know Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle are very close to us at the moment but I don’t believe they’ll be this close to a top 4 position come April.

Our performance merited nothing more than a draw, at best. Southampton did very well and gave us quite a few scares. Once again, De Gea produced a superb stop to win us the three points. It has become normal for him to produce these world class saves. Just give this guy 200k p/w and tie him to the club for 5 years, Woodward! He’s good, very good but he’ll keep on improving and will be the world’s best goalie in no time.

In the game of football it is normal to have a shocker every now and then and that’s exactly what our youngster, Paddy McNair, had today. He’s been brilliant in all games he’s played but he couldn’t come to grips against the Saints. He’s kept his record of having won every game he has started. Not a bad stat that! Hopefully the fact that he was substituted before the 40th minute won’t bring our academy graduate down. He has looked good in the games he’s played and, let’s face it, we just love one of our own playing in the first team.

There were other abysmal performances by a couple of players who have been really good recently. Fellaini produced a display that we got used to seeing last year. The goal we conceded was because he gave the ball away cheaply and most of his passes were sloppy. No one will get on his back, of course, now that he’s become a valuable member of the first team. Another midfielder who let us down today was Mata who gave very little contribution.
Rojo was dreadful. He tried to bring out the ball from the final third but always seemed to take one touch too many. Carrick and Rooney didn’t really set the world alight either. The latter did produce a fine assist though. Substitutes Herrera and Evans brought some composure but they’ve seen better days too. It was sad to see Smalling succumb to yet another injury. He’s become our best defender, it’s a shame he’s so injury prone. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve got so many injuries, is van Gaal imposing too much on our players?

Young worked hard and that’s a pleasure to see. Considering that he never was a defender, he did his defensive duties superbly and was a threat on the few times he attacked. What a difference a year makes!

RVP was definitely our best player. He worked his socks off and scored two goals. This was a game that gave us a glimpse of the super sharp van Persie of two years ago. He’s now become our top scorer with 6 premier league goals. We’ll need his scoring prowess during this festive period. We didn’t deserve to score two goals because almost every player had an off day but that’s what you get when you have world class players who manage to produce something when most of their team mates are playing below par.  Well done Robin.

We won’t win the league, getting into Europe is definitely our priority. It will serve as a springboard to greater things in the future. However, we’re now 5 points closer to Chelsea than we were at the start of December. While admitting that Chelsea’s squad is miles ahead of us, we’re only 8 points adrift and, as we’ve learned in 2011/12, that lead could be lost in a month. Quite a few games will be played between now and mid January, points will be dropped by the teams close to us, we just have to make sure we’re not dropping points too. We’ve got Liverpool, Villa, Newcastle, Tottenham and Stoke coming up, I think all of these games are pretty winnable.

With the injuries we’ve got, I think it’s a great feat for our team to be this close to the leaders. When all players come back from injury, if that ever happens, we’ll only get better. Come on United! 


Top Posts in Past Month