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United survive post international break jitters; go top.

I expected the Bolton match to be hard-fought, gritty, and all you could associate with a fixture played on the back of an international break. As the match started playing out, a little bit of revisionism struck and I actually felt we would walk it. But somehow, we contrived to make it harder for ourselves towards the end, and it ended as nervously as I first thought it would.

But the best part of yesterday actually happened elsewhere. First, Aston Villa stunned Chelsea — and stunned is a justifiable term, considering the ordinary season Villa are having — and then a kid, who I shall call “Balloon Boy II” struck at the Stadium of Light. [Those unaware of the Balloon Boy reference, you should take a look at this incident that happened 2 days ago.] I know it was really a beach ball and not a balloon, but play along, eh.

A Liverpool fan punches one of those balls on to the pitch, ‘pool defenders fail to clear it away and DBTheTruth scores a goal with a wicked deflection off the beach ball. You just can’t make such shit up.

Beachball deflection

Shit you can make up, is through photoshop and sure enough, you have some brilliant minds at work creating memes root-causing the fiasco — one of them, this one: [both images, via RoM]

Neville Beach Ball

But enough schadenfreude for now.

The Good:

1. Aside from the happenings at Villa Park or the Stadium of Light, we had a pretty good first half.

2. Berbatov and Owen linked up quite well. Owen’s awareness and movement continues to be top notch. His finishing let him down however. Berbatov, fresh off his hat-trick for Bulgaria was excellent as provider yet, luck deserted him when it came to his finishing.

3. Valencia had a good game; was strong and direct, and topped it off with his debut goal.

4. Ryan Giggs. Veteran, continues to turn the clock back at will. Manages to keep Nani out. Put this on repeat. Every season.

5. Full backs overlapping on both flanks led to both our goals. Evra continues to be excellent for us, while Neville tried to go forward whenever he could.

6. EVDS returns to the starting lineup. He had an uneventful game for the most part. Can’t really say anything else other than good to see him back.

7. Top of the league! Top of the league! Top of the league!

The Bad:

1. Some nervousness, some poor passing in the second half, allowed United to cede initiative and help Bolton in with a sniff.

2. Neville. He was at fault for the Bolton goal. A weak clearance, if one could call that a clearance, led to the goal.

3. Ponderous defending towards the end showed some cracks that has crept into our back four lately hasn’t entirely been resolved. If Gary Cahill had headed anywhere else we would be singing a different song. But we could be playing the if game all day if we wanted to.

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The good thing is we can hopefully regroup, take stock, get past the midweek Champions League game against CSKA Moscow, sans Rooney, and well… keep marching on which is what we are supposed to be doing anyway.

Before I end this I shall leave you with a quote from Darren Bent made this morning on his twitter page:

“Morning peeps, I might go to the beach today lol ha ha”

Indeed. Who else is up for a game of beach football?