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Lone Penalty seats United firmly on top

A ridiculous red card ensured Liverpool gain the upper hand and win (although just barely) against Chelsea, and get a lifeline to hang onto. Meanwhile, a Ronaldo penalty ensured we saw off Everton without much trouble.

The game as such wasn’t particularly remarkable (we live-blogged it here) and I think the best way to summarize this should be with by pointing out the good and the bad.

The Good:

1. Michael Carrick: The man’s become a giant in United’s midfield. Not literally, but in terms of his influence. His passing in the past, while good in parts, was always dogged by criticism that he didn’t make many probing ones of significance. While he has been steady from the start of the season, the turn of the year has been excellent for him. His link up with Berbatov has been catching the fancy of many observers, and whilst his last England performance warmed the cockles of observers, his recent form is sure to give Capello loads of headaches. Simply ran the show yesterday, and was clearly my man of the match. I mentioned his ungainly running with the ball in yesterday’s live blog which, at times, gives me the impression that it may be a factor why he seems unable to possess a consistently good shot. But that bit of ungainly movement earned him the penalty — which was a good decision, for the record.

2. Park Ji-Sung: Continued to underline his importance with ceaseless running. His lack of end product may frustrate, but yesterday was good. Was unlucky not to score, only denied by an excellent save by Howard.

3. Vida and Rio: Both had unremarkable outings, but were peerless in the early exchanges in the first half when Everton looked to threaten. After that they could have brought their PSP’s to resume playing season 2012 of FIFA ’09.

4. United in the first half: We attacked with purpose, and were unlucky to go only one goal ahead. The impressive part was that we were fluent for most part and were creating genuine chances. It was a shame that we had to rely on a penalty to go ahead.

The Bad:

1. Gary Neville: While he’s been rightly criticised this season, he’s also had performances that he can be proud of. Yesterday however proved that he’ll struggle to play two games a week. Got skinned too easily, and Wes Brown’s introduction settled matters for us.

2. Darren Fletcher: He will struggle to be taken seriously if he does not improve his consistency. True, he raises his game against the big teams, but so do Arsenal, only to be dragged in dirt on a cold, damp night in December at Stoke. I wouldn’t be overtly critical of him because he’s shown genuine effort at improving aspect of his game (like making more forward runs into the box) but yesterday he made glaring schoolboy errors.

3. Carlos Tevez: It would be unfair to class him in the ‘bad’ category — average would fit him better. But while he’s enjoyed excellent form recently, he showed sluggish first touch, questionable decision making on the break and a tendency to go for glory when a simple pass might have helped. I still think he’ll do fine for most part this season. Fergie sign him up!

4. The second half: Dead. No ambition from Everton apart from some brief threats. United were content sitting on their lead (I hope this attitude won’t haunt us in the future.)

My Sunday has started poorly with Nadal overcoming Federer and the Liverpool-Chelsea game not ending in a draw. Let’s see what the Super Bowl holds — not that I can be too arsed about either teams. Beckham’s continued good form for Milan though, has been impressive.


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