Hammers took time to settle in after an early shock of van Persie scoring a goal in the very first minute of the game. But as they settled in, they created many chances that could have been converted in goal. West Ham’s set pieces often troubled United’s back four who were good for most of the 90 minutes. Hammers had as many as nine attempts from inside the penalty box, 3 of them from set play including a Andy Carroll volley which went over the bar. United were never utterly dominant at any point in the game and hence the Hammers had many chances to punish United for not putting the game to bet even though they had a 67% possession. Big Sam should be more or less happy with the fact that West Ham were organized at the back and apart from a freak incident leading to goal, they did well to deny Rooney and co. for 90+ minutes.
Rafael and Evans rock solid for United.
Rafael put another Man of the Match worthy performance as he proved vital for United at the back, making sure Jarvis did not just walk past him. He made 3 tackles and five interceptions. He also played a good one going forward and created as many as three chances as he continues to grow in strength. Evans did well too as he looks like 100% back from his injury and his understanding with Smalling looks to be building stronger as every game goes. He also committed his 1st foul in almost 11 and a half hours of game time, which is an excellent stat for any defender to be proud of. Except for Vidic, everyone is fit for United and this gives them a big boost selection wise ahead of Manchester Derby in 10 days at the Etihad stadium.
Anderson and Cleverley impressive for United.
Sir Alex had already made his mind up on giving Anderson a start, seeing Cleverley’s name on the starting line up made the United faithful happy about the starting line up, for once, and they did not disappoint. Anderson put in a very good shift although he later asked to be subbed as he was too tired and Cleverley too, enjoyed the role of playing much further up the field. While Cleverley played most in the attacking 3rd, Anderson’s footprints were all over the pitch as he contributed both in defense and offense. Main contribution from both was to the overall pace of United’s play which was missed as the likes of Scholes and Giggs played alongside Carrick. Playing two players who like to play quick passing helped Carrick as he dominated the play sitting deep with two players and Rooney supporting in front of him.
United fail to put the game to bed, once again!
Although scoring first was welcomed as an early Christmas present, but, United’s failure to put the game to bed once again resulting in nervous moments towards the end is concerning. Had it not been for van Persie’s excellent touch to take a shot and a lucky deflection, United would have had to work a lot harder to score as the game progressed. United played some really good football in the build up but the final ball and finishing was poor and did not compliment the good move in the final third. Often left with shooting from distance, which, often resulted in goal kick rather than a corner or a shot on target, it is worrying that with all the firepower they have up front, they cannot make most of the chances they are getting lately.
Diamonds are forever.
Sir Alex played a diamond last night ignoring the out of form wingers for once and it proved right as United functioned far better than they have when playing the traditional 4-4-2. The full backs take the responsibility of providing the width when needed and with 3 central midfielders in the team, United cancel out the possibility of getting out run in the midfield. With Shinji Kagawa back in few weeks, him playing a more advanced role in the diamond would bring the best out of him and help the team create more clear cut chances. One would think Sir Alex would not make the mistake he made at Etihad last season and go with his best players and formation this time around.
Written By Redscout (2632)