Sunday 9 March 2014

Team Ratings: Manchester United vs Fulham 09/02/14

  • 1. David De Gea - 5 - Should probably have done better with the Richardson shot that he parried right onto the head of Bent for the equaliser.
  • 2. Rafael - 5 -  Acted as a winger for the hour he played. His crossing was poor.
  • 12. Chris Smalling - 6 - Vidic made him look good. Should have got on the end of some of those 81 crosses.
    15. Nemanja Vidic - 5 - Had a bit of a nightmare. Out-muscled and out-paced throughout and gave them the ball to create the move for their injury time equaliser.
    3. Patrice Evra - 6 - Should have done much better with Fulham's first, letting Sidwell go far too easily. Fared slightly better than Rafael as a makeshift winger.
    24. Darren Fletcher - 5 - Had a quiet game. Should have tracked back for Sidwell's goal.
  • 16. Michael Carrick - 7 - Scored what United thought was the winner in a decent display where he played in a more attacking role.
    18. Ashley Young - 6 - Put in a lot of crosses with not much joy.
    8. Juan Mata - 7 - Looked lively and created plenty of chances. Got an assist for United's first goal in a bright display.
  • 10. Wayne Rooney - 6 - Another man that could be culpable for the opening goal after letting Sidwell go but he made up for it with his sheer energy, putting himself all over the pitch for the cause. Showed great passion, especially with his celebration for Carrick's goal.
  • 20. Robin Van Persie - 7 - Scored the equaliser. Unlucky for the most-part as Fulham defended excellently.

  • Substitutions-

  • 44. Adnan Januzaj - 6 - Replaced Fletcher. Was one of the only players that put in crosses that looked like creating something.
  • 25. Antonio Valencia - 5 - Replaced Rafael. Made little impact.
  • 14. Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez- 5 - Replaced Young. Showed good movement.

Match Report: Manchester United vs Fulham 09/02/14

Bottom of the table Fulham leave United feeling cross as they snatch late injury time equaliser in 2-2 draw. 

David Moyes' Manchester United team were hoping to make up for a poor result away to Stoke by claiming their second consecutive home victory at Old Trafford. The visitors were Fulham, a team struggling to get off the foot of the table. Phil Jones was ruled out for the reds after the injury he picked up at Stoke with Jonny Evans also out with the calf injury he sustained in the same match. This meant Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic were picked in central defence. Kieran Richardson started for Fulham against his former club whilst Ryan Tunnicliffe made his debut against the club he signed from. Johnny Heitinga was another debutant and Sascha Riether returned to the line-up after overcoming an injury set-back.

It was a relatively low-key start to the game with United looking the stronger side until some brilliance from Holtby allowed Sidwell to ghost past United's sleeping defenders and guide the ball home to give Fulham a shock lead inside twenty minutes. It seemed to come from nowhere but it was a lovely move by the team in white as Holtby chipped the ball over the defence and into the path of Sidwell, who had timed his run perfectly. He then finished the move with a well-executed finish that highlighted a huge lapse in concentration from the United defenders.

United desperately tried to make the most of their attacking quartet of Young, Rooney, Van Persie and Mata but couldn't convert their chances with Van Persie volleying wide at the far post from Rafael's cross and Young heading Mata's cross straight at Stekelenburg from a similar position moments later. To be fair to the Fulham keeper, he made a good save with both hands to keep the effort out. United were enjoying plenty of possession around the Fulham box and put in cross after cross but couldn't seem to break them down. This made them susceptible to being caught on the counter-attack by the away team, who should have been two up after they caught them on the break just before half time. Tankovic burst forward with pace and made what looked like a smart decision to play in Richardson. However, the former United man spurned the chance and blazed it over the bar.

Despite that chance and being a goal ahead, from the stats it seemed incredible that United were yet to score. It wasn't from lack of trying, United worked the Fulham keeper before the half was over as Carrick did well to get a good shot away inside a crowded box before a Van Persie effort was heroically blocked again by Stekelenburg and cleared.

The second half began much like the first with United playing most of their football in and around the Fulham area but with Stekelenburg and his defence performing brilliantly to deny them. A brilliant save with his right hand ensured a Rooney effort that was goal-bound went over the bar rather than into the back of the net. Just when it seemed like it wasn't going to be United's day after they had a penalty appeal turned down for handball against Burn, they managed to break Fulham down and scored two in quick succession.

It was from a combination of Mata and Van Persie that United got their first as Mata got a second chance at goal after his intial one was well blocked. The Spaniard hit it across goal for Van Persie to tap in to put United back on level terms with just over ten minutes to play. Once they'd got one in the back of the net it was less than two minutes before they had Stekelenburg picking the ball out of his goal for a second time. Substitute Januzaj whipped in a cross that was headed out to Carrick who shot from the edge of the area and saw it take a deflection before it looped into the far corner to give United a deserved lead.

It looked like United had the points wrapped up and they could have scored a third deep into injury time when Mata sent a shot just wide of the post. The noisy United faithful will have wished it went in as the game still wasn't over and Fulham punished them in the fourth minute of stoppage time to earn themselves a point. Vidic sent a poor header into the path of Sidwell who played in Richardson on the left. He then shot at De Gea who saved it but it left the ball high in the air in the perfect place for Bent to head into an empty net.

It was a terrible end to the game for Moyes' men who looked to have made a brilliant comeback and secured a third successive home league victory. Unlike in some other games where they've dropped points, in this tie they really took the game to Fulham, putting in an incredible 81 crosses throughout the match. It remains to be seen whether the draw can be attributed to a lack of quality from these crosses or whether it was simply due to an impressive defensive display from Fulham but after today it certainly seems like United won't be playing Champions League football next season. 

Team Ratings: Stoke City vs Manchester United 01/02/14

1. David De Gea - 6 - Couldn't do anything about either goal.
12. Chris Smalling - 3 - Moved to centre back after 8 minutes and looked shaky throughout. Made a horrendous clearance in the second half that Stoke should have scored a third from. 
6. Jonny Evans - 5 - Had to go off in the 8th minute with a calf strain.
4. Phil Jones - 5 - Was average and went off just before half time after a bad fall. 
3. Patrice Evra - 5 - Looked really dangerous on the attack, particularly in the first half but was too often exposed at the back and struggled to get back into position after his runs up-field.
16. Michael Carrick - 5 - Was forced to play the second half at centre-back and did okay but his performance in midfield was woeful as usual this season.
23. Tom Cleverley - 3 - Brought nothing to the team. One of many to show a lack of passion.
18. Ashley Young - 4 - Spurned a brilliant chance to get the equaliser with a poor header.
10. Wayne Rooney - 5 - Was forced to drop into midfield and did okay. Went incredibly close with a brilliant free kick but overall couldn't pull United to victory. 
8. Juan Mata - 7 - Probably United's best player on the day. Contributed well with a superb assist and created some good chances.
20. Robin Van Persie - 6 - Very well taken goal and looked sharp considering he has only just returned from injury. 

2. Rafael - 6 - Replaced Evans. Looked a million times better than Smalling at right back. Slotted in fine and put some good crosses in.
19. Danny Welbeck - 4 - Replaced Jones. Had the touch of an elephant.
14. Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez - 4 - Replaced Van Persie. Too late to do anything.

Match Report: Stoke City vs Manchester United 01/02/14

Adam brace condemns Manchester United to sixth defeat of 2014 as even super trio of Mata, Rooney and Van Persie can't save them from 2-1 defeat at Stoke.

With the return to action of two of their most important players alongside the addition of top class player Juan Mata, it seemed like things were finally starting to look up for Manchester United. Add this to a vital three points against Cardiff in mid-week and a rare win at home and it seemed like United could be on course start their climb up the table. First they would have to beat a Stoke side that have lost their last four but pushed them incredibly close earlier in the season as United fought back to win 3-2 having been 2-1 down at Old Trafford.

United's new deadly trio all started this match although Adnan Januzaj was left on the bench.
Nemanja Vidic served the last of a three match ban with Phil Jones and Jonny Evans partnering each other in defence and Chris Smalling starting at right back. Stoke were without Robert Huth as he was ruled out with a knee injury whilst Steven N'Zonzi was suspended.

The game started quietly although United were forced into making a change in the 8th minute as Evans had to be replaced by Rafael. This saw Smalling switch inside to partner Jones in central defence as Rafael took up his usual spot at right back. However, it was United's French left-back who looked the liveliest of their defenders as he charged up the left flank to create some decent opportunities for the away side. 

Rooney got on the end of one of Evra's early crosses but could only volley it wide of Begovic's right-hand post. Shortly after that Van Persie headed a chance narrowly over the bar but just when United were looking like the team that would break the deadlock it was Stoke that went ahead. Adam took a free kick from 30 yards that took a vital deflection off Carrick which wrong-footed De Gea and left him stranded as the ball flew past him. It was a stroke of luck for the home side but they'd take it after a miserable run of taking only one point from their last six.

Just when United were looking to get to half time with only the one goal conceded they were dealt even more bad luck when Jones clashed with Walters and was their second central defender of the day that had to be replaced early on. Having already switched his back four around David Moyes was left with only one option, moving Carrick to centre back and Rooney into midfield with Welbeck coming on to replace Jones.

The second half had barely started before United made it back on terms with a beautiful goal from Van Persie and a wonderful assist for new boy Mata. The Spaniard pounced on a poor clearance from Adam and hit a one touch through ball into the path of Van Persie who let it bounce twice before placing the ball into the far corner with a lovely finish.

It was a great team goal from United but they weren't level for long as Adam stepped up again with an even better individual goal that flew into the top corner to give Mark Hughes' side the lead. It seemed to come from nowhere but Adam is known for his left footed strikes and this was one to savour as he hit it perfectly from 25 yards out. 

The goal gave Stoke some momentum and they could have gone further ahead after a terrible clearance from Smalling gifted Arnautovic the chance to shoot from inside the box. Luckily for United he curled it just wide but Stoke continued to press and called De Gea into action late on when he had to tip substitute Assaidi's acrobatic effort over the bar.

United had two brilliant opportunities to equalise at the death, first when Smalling's cross found Young unmarked at the far post but the winger headed it across the face of goal and out for a goal kick. Their second chance went a lot closer as Rooney had a brilliant free kick tipped onto the post by Begovic. United couldn't put the ball in from the rebound though with Cleverley shooting harmlessly over.

After seven minutes of injury time the whistle finally went to condemn United to yet another historic defeat as Stoke claimed their first victory over them since 1984. United have to face another team battling relegation next week when Fulham travel to Old Trafford but with the way their season is going, who knows what will be the outcome.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Team Ratings: Manchester United vs Cardiff City 28/01/2014

  • 1. David De Gea - 6 - Made a couple of good saves but had a relatively quiet time.
  • 2. Rafael - 6 -  Looked good in attack, particularly in the second half but was a bit suspect in defence.
    12. Chris Smalling - 7 - Helped keep a clean sheet with some solid headers.
    6. Jonny Evans - 7 - Kept United old boy Campbell quiet in a comfortable performance. Almost scored too with an unlikely long range effort.
    3. Patrice Evra - 7 - Did well in the lead up to Van Persie's goal by keeping Mata's pass in play and was up and down the wing all afternoon in a lively display.
    25. Antonio Valencia - 7 - Seemed in confident form, hit the bar which led to the opener and then struck the post in the second half.
    4. Phil Jones - 6 - Did a good enough job, was neat in possession and protected the back four.
    11. Ryan Giggs - 5 - Was worrying when Mutch went past him like he wasn't there in the first half and could easily have been punished. Still has an eye for a pass and skill but perhaps better coming on as a sub as he lacks the legs to start games.
    18. Ashley Young - 8 - An impressive display from the off as his perfect cross caused the problems that led to the early first goal. Scored a stunning goal in the second half to put the game to bed. Much improved.
    8. Juan Mata - 7 - Showcased the creativity United have been lacking. He spread the ball well (as he did for the first goal) and got an assist.
    20. Robin Van Persie - 7 - Came back into the team and scored straight away, just what you look for in a striker. 

  • Substitutions-

    10. Wayne Rooney - 6 - Replaced Van Persie. Was involved straight away, creating chances and having a pop at goal himself. Understandably a little rusty but it's good to see him back.
  • 23. Tom Cleverley - 5 - Replaced Giggs. Not much to do when he came on.
  • 44. Adnan Januzaj - 6 - Replaced Mata. Looked lively as ever, sent a shot just wide.

Match Report: Manchester United vs Cardiff City 28/01/2014

United surpass Juan thousand home points in the Premier League on Mata's debut as they get back to winning ways with 2-0 home victory against Cardiff.

All eyes were on United's new addition Juan Mata for this match at Old Trafford so you could almost be forgiven for forgetting that dramatic Capital One Cup Semi Final that took place on the same pitch less than a week ago where United were knocked out by Sunderland in an embarrassing penalty shoot-out. Time moves fast at this club and there was a certain buzz around the stadium as the seats filled up with everyone wanting to catch a glimpse of United's new number 8.

If that wasn't enough for United fans, they also welcomed back their star men Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney with the former starting alongside Mata and the latter on the bench. Former United great Ole Gunnar Solskjaer received a loud and loving welcome from the fans that still chant his name on a regular basis but his Cardiff side were sitting bottom of the table and the Norwegian was surely hoping to capitalise on United's poor home form. Another ex-United player involved was Frazier Campbell who was chosen to lead the Bluebirds front line on his return to Old Trafford.

It didn't take long before United's flying Dutchman Van Persie notched a goal on his return to action. Less than six minutes in fact as Mata started the move with a wonderful pass out to the left from a deep-lying position. Evra collected the pass and linked with Van Persie and Young before the latter sent an inviting cross into the box. Valencia attacked it with venom but his header crashed against the bar. The rebound fell to Van Persie whose initial header was saved by Marshall but he made no mistake when the ball fell to him again and he headed it in to give United an early lead.

Cardiff tried their best to get back on terms as Mutch impressed in midfield but he was often let down by his team mates who struggled to continue the moves he had started. Van Persie went agonisingly close to his second goal just after the half hour mark as he sent the ball just wide from a difficult angle after a lovely pass from Evra.

Cardiff looked most dangerous on the counter-attack and tried their best to create chances, their best coming when Hudson prompted a good save from De Gea in the first half. However, United still looked relatively comfortable and Young ensured it was practically game over just before the hour mark when he put the ball in the net in stunning fashion. Mata was involved again as he spread the ball out wide for Young who picked it up, cut inside and went past two Cardiff players, setting himself up with a perfect opening to shoot from 25 yards. Although Young doesn't have the greatest scoring record at Old Trafford, he scores some brilliant goals and this was one to add to the collection as it swerved into the far bottom corner to put United 2-0 up.

Seconds later, Mata had a shot from inside the box saved to deny him a debut goal before Evans almost scored with an ambitious long-range effort. Rooney then came on to replace Van Persie and almost got in on the action himself as he tried an audacious lob from range that took a deflection and went just wide. Valencia then hit the post in a spell where the home side really should have gone further ahead.

The United pressure continued right into injury time when substitute Januzaj joined the list of United players to waste opportunities as he dragged a shot just wide of Marshall's left-hand post. Rooney then sent an effort past the same post before the whistle went with the match ending 2-0, although it could easily have been a bigger scoreline. Ultimately David Moyes will just be glad to have won the three points, performed well at home and have some of his star performers return to the line-up. Cardiff defended admirably but they will need to show more attacking promise in future games if they are to have a hope of getting off the foot of the table. Solskjaer's side will be hoping United can do them a favour in their next match by beating relegation contenders Stoke at the Brittania on Saturday.

Team Ratings: Manchester United vs Sunderland 22/01/2014

  • 1. David De Gea - 5 - Terrible mistake for Bardsley's goal, the only shot on target he had to deal with in the 119 minutes. Did make two decent saves in the shootout though.
  • 2. Rafael - 4 -  A poor performance where he struggled against Borini and missed a penalty. One to forget.
    12. Chris Smalling - 5 - Looked terrified of Johnson but made some good headers.
    6. Jonny Evans - 6 - Scored the goal to put United 1-0 up and tried his best to lead the team.
    28. Alexander Buttner - 4 - Often out of position and got caught out a few times. Struggled with Johnson all game.
    44. Adnan Januzaj - 7 - Missed a penalty but was United's best player, again. Never afraid to take a man on and played a part in both of United's goals.
    24. Darren Fletcher - 6 - Embarrassingly was the only United player to score his penalty. Led by example.
    16. Michael Carrick - 5 - Gave the ball away quite a few times before going off with an ankle injury.
    26. Shinji Kagawa - 4 - Forgot he was playing at times, really needs to impact the game more.
    19. Danny Welbeck - 5 - Was out-muscled a few times but always tried to be involved, as shown when he flicked on Januzaj's corner for the opener. Incredibly poor penalty though. 
    14. Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez - 4 - Scored the goal that took it to penalties with a tap in but looked lacklustre and slow all evening. His first touch was also very poor.

  • Substitutions-

    25. Antonio Valencia - 6 - Replaced Kagawa. Looked threatening but lacked support.
  • 3. Patrice Evra - 6 - Replaced Buttner. Did the job.
  • 4. Phil Jones - 4 - Replaced Carrick. Horrendous penalty.