United 2 - 1 Stoke City
Smalling Carrick Rojo
Valencia Fellaini Herrera(Fletcher) Young
Wilson(Falcao) van Persie
|You do feel that United are slowly improving. 4th win in a row.|
We were dominant throughout the game bar the final 5 minutes. Fellaini opened the score but Stoke equalised with their only shot on target in 85 minutes or so. Mata scored what proved to be the winner from a free-kick. I'm writing this post barely 10 minutes after the end of the game, at this very moment there's probably a bit of banter between Mata and Rojo. The latter was claiming the goal but, apparently, the goal is Mata's.
Some of our passing was crisp but we lacked that final killer ball. In fact, Begovic only made one save and picked the ball from the net a couple times. We only had 3 shots on target. That's not good enough given the amount of possession we had. We have to start converting all this possession into openings.
I'm delighted with Fellaini, he was excellent today. He took his goal really well and was unlucky not to score another but Begovic made a fine save. What's even more pleasing is the fact that he managed to intercept plenty of Stoke passes. Young also had a really good game on the left. He gave Stoke's right-back quite a few headaches and also cleared the ball off the line in injury time. That's two points won because of that intervention. These two were probably our worst performers last year. Whatever van Gaal and his coaches are doing, it definitely is working.
Smalling had another good game at the back but this shouldn't surprise any of us, he's our best defender and we should expect such performances. At the front, van Persie's work ethic was commendable but I'd rather see him create some chances in the box. This was the first time he failed to score, in a United shirt, against Stoke. His partner up front, Wilson, was a tad too quiet during the first half but grew in confidence after the break. He could have scored a brilliant solo goal but his shot ended just wide. At the time I was fuming because he could have easily squared the ball to an unmarked van Persie and, assuming the latter would have scored, that would have been game over.
|This was on a newspaper two years ago. Thank God we kept faith in him.|
The missed chance mattered little at the time. We were all over Stoke and there was little chance that they were going to threaten our rearguard. They did get back at us though. Stoke could have scored three times during the final few minutes. David De Gea produced two world class stops and Young cleared off the line Stoke's final chance. Gone are the days when De Gea's game would be deeply analysed and then criticised. He has won us quite a few points this year. Absolutely excellent. Definitely the best goalie in England. Let's hope there's nothing in the rumours that Real Madrid have approached him.
|To all those people who laughed at us at the start of the season|
So it's another win in a game we would have probably drawn last year. Our boys showed great character to get through it and it was nice to see them fighting till the final whistle. There were times last year when some of our players threw in the towel with plenty of football still to be played. Perhaps this is the effect of a world class manager. Old Trafford is slowly becoming the fortress it once was. We've only dropped 5 points at home and won 19. If only our away form was better! There's still plenty of time to improve away from home, starting from our next PL game vs Southampton. It will be a tough test against a side that only lost once at home this season. However, City put three past them last Sunday so there's no reason why we can't do the same. Hopefully Rooney will be back for Monday's game. We did miss his presence today. Onwards and upwards. Come on United!