This wouldn’t be a full fledged match report like the ones in the past; I couldn’t quite recover from the flu that kept me down, hence the lack of a report on Sunday. I did watch the match though, and since plenty has already been talked about in the comments, I will keep this short.
United moved top of the table after the win over Derby, and stayed there courtesy Arsenal’s inability to beat Middlesborough and goal difference; the Gooners seem to be on a poor run in the league dropping eight points in their last four games. However the scoreline would have surprised many as everyone was braced for a massacre at Pride Park following a 6-1 thrashing at Stamford Bridge in midweek.
The Rams appeared rejuvenated and for a big part of the game appeared the better team. Anyway here are some thoughts I had about Saturday.
- United’s display wasn’t too encouraging. Well, we know it is the time when teams start tiring and relegation threatened sides start playing out of their skin, but over the past few games we are seeing a little slacking in the performance of certain players. Maybe it’s more a mental thing? I don’t know, but yesterday’s performance should serve as a cautionary tale for the games to come; Bolton have beaten us, and will fight for their lives, and Liverpool are the in-form team at the moment.
- The striking department has been a little profligate. Ronaldo was used as a striker and it may yet be another confirmation that Fergie believes he’s a better bet upfront than Saha. But then Saha’s injury situation and Tevez’s fatigue may have forced his hand. While it is positive of us to think that we are creating chances, it’s also galling to see the number of chances fluffed. It’s an affliction that’s proved to be Arsenal’s undoing in the past (and also Liverpool) and we would do well to take our chances to avoid slip-ups. The season will be decided against the lesser opposition and we must never take them lightly.
- We need Rio and Vidic at the centre. Allowing Derby to go one-on-one with the keeper, twice, is unforgivable if we have Champions’ League and Premier League aspirations. A fast, attacking team, like Roma, could easily cause havoc if we don’t have both our first choice defenders. Rio and Vidic are the yin and yang. Rio’s pace, assurance on the ball and reading of the game complements the uncompromising nature of Vidic’s game, his aerial presence and crunching tackles. We need both of them at the centre, and while we got out of jail against Derby, we couldn’t be so lucky against half a decent opposition.
- Ben Foster’s debut. A great debut for the lad. I really feel so happy for him. He didn’t seem to show too many nerves, and those two saves he made would have done a lot for his confidence. Fergie had said earlier that he wasn’t too worried about having to field Foster in goal and he showed why he is among the more promising English ‘keepers — a dying breed, I can assure you. He may need a little working on his kicking, and while it will be status quo once EVDS returns, a start would have given the young ‘keeper belief to fight for a permanent starting place in the side in the future.
We still have a long way to go. This season will go quite some distance, and it will be a three-horse race, with Chelsea looking increasingly ominous and a bigger threat than Arsenal. So fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be one hell of a ride!
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