Monday, 5 March 2012

Spurs 1 Manchester United 3 – The Autopsy

Yesterday was another perfect example of Manchester United winning when not at their best. For long periods of the match, predominately the opening hour, Spurs dominated; however lacked a clinical threat that United had in abundance.

Team Selection
Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad selection had no surprise element about it, with Wayne Rooney returning after missing the last two United games. Jonny Evans partnered Rio Ferdinand in the heart of the defence, which meant Phil Jones was again shafted out to right back, which I’m sure was a much more attractive role given the fact Gareth Bale missed the match.

Young follows United trend of not being at their best but producing the goods.
Like United, Ashley Young failed to exert himself on the game in the early proceedings; however in the second half the former Villa man took his two goals excellently, with the second in particular a brilliant finish.

Though Kyle Walker didn’t cover himself in glory for any of the United goals; during the match he kept Young quiet out on the wing. For me Young is at his best in the middle, just of the striker; however when you’ve got a certain Rooney whose up there with the best in the world in the number 10 role, Young will, in all likelihood, always have to settle for a place on the wing, meaning he is less effective. The goal that put the game to bed illustrated perfectly how good Young is given space in the middle of the park, with his curling effort giving Brad Friedel no chance in the Spurs goal.

Having dipped in form over the last few months, United fans will hope his two goals at White Hart Lane can help Young reproduce the form he showed at the start of the season.

Fortune favoured the Reds.
I’m going to come out and say it, yesterday we were a little fortunate. Numerous things combined to ensure we won the match. Tottenham were without three key players in Scott Parker, Rafael Van Der Vaart and Bale, all of whom would’ve made keeping Spurs at bay a harder task. Secondly Emmaneul Adebayor was perhaps unfortunate to see his strike, at 0-0 and a key stage of the game, ruled out as the former City striker couldn’t really get out of the way. Harry Redknapp’s side did dominate the first half, and despite playing their best player in Luka Modric out wide, Tottenham controlled the ball well and despite falling to create a host of chances were the better side, and for us to head in at half time ahead was very much a case of daylight robbery.

Rooney goal return in the big games
Yet again in a game against the top sides Rooney produced the goods with the all important opening goal. Against the other six of the top seven sides this season (not including the two goals he scored in the FA Cup win at Manchester City) Rooney has scored a brilliant 10 goals in 11 games. (2 vs. Spurs, 3 vs. Arsenal, 3 vs. Chelsea and 2 vs. Liverpool)

Rooney scored the all important opening goal in the win on Sunday and was a consistent threat throughout the match, dropping deep as ever and finding space in between the Tottenham defence and midfield with ease. Manchester United and Rooney in particular benefited from Scott Parker’s absence.

Improvement on the road.
Due to our rivals’ inability to sustain the pressure on us last year, we were allowed to only pick up a pitiful 25 points on our travels the whole year. This season however has been in complete contrast to last year, with our away form the best in the Premier League, with 33 points and just the one defeat to our name.

Last season we conceded goals for fun, and despite the injured Nemanja Vidic, we’ve improved incredibly and have only leaked 12 goals away from Old Trafford. Those doubting Ferdinand’s form at the start of the season have quietened over recent weeks as the former England captain has more then stepped up to the responsibility of being the leader at the back due to the absence of the aforementioned Vidic.

Run in
Manchester United have now picked up an impressive 19 points from 21 since the 3-0 defeat away to Newcastle, and when you consider the fact we’ve travelled to Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Norwich in that run, the points tally is a fantastic achievement.
Having played all the sides towards the top of the table, bar the derby at Eastlands on the 22nd April, our run in on paper looks slightly favourable then Manchester City’s, with Roberto Mancini’s side set to face Arsenal and Chelsea in the next few weeks. 

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