Job done and no more as Utd lead the packBy: Ian | November 29th, 2012
The midweek fixture this week was no cup tie, no Champions League group game, just a fairly standard league game against West Ham. This is part of the run of games that I have said Utd need full points from. There’s no real pressure on at the moment, everything is rolling by quite comfortably. Without being anywhere near great, Utd top the table, and still have another Champions League game where the result is irrelevant. City are in indifferent form and the high-flying Chelsea from the start of the season seem to have gone on holiday. So, would it be three points against the Hammers?
A front three of Rooney, RVP and Hernandez suggested little to worry about on this score. Smalling continued his return to the side at the back and Anderson game-changing performance against QPR earned him a place. And everything started very well indeed. From the kickoff, Utd went back to the right, shifted sides, brought it forward to Carrick, who played a long ball into Van Persie just outside the box. Depending on your view, his first touch was either magnificent or appalling. Either way, it took the ball around the defender with the Dutchman turning to fire at goal. An incoming Collins slide deflected the ball nicely past Jaaskelainen. Quickest league goal this season, by some way apparently. The goal time of a minute lied, it was barely half that.
Andy Carroll may have been West Ham’s target man, but they were perfectly happy to play the ball around before it got to him. Nolan got involved with a chance from a freekick and picking up the game’s first yellow card. Carroll then got his opportunity with a snap volley that was rising too quickly. Utd pressured too, with Hernandez bustling about and trying a curving low shot from outside the box. Only a smart save prevented a second goal. Other than that, there wasn’t much to say, but I will copy others in their reviews and focus on Anderson and Rafael. Anderson did a great shift and when he plays well, its lovely to watch. Rafael was his usual self, and that is praise enough.
The second half didn’t start with the excitement of the first, but West Ham did get a few tame attempts away before Tom Cleverley shot over at the opposite end. Van Persie’s freekick was easily saved, which preceded Rooney’s attempt to curl it around the Finnish keeper. The corner that followed produced a scramble, but somehow even Evans’ lunge did not add to the goal tally. Thus followed a period of tired-looking play, as Utd looked like they just wanted to wrap things up for the night. Not getting three points now would have resulted in a furious reaction and there was still time for Cole to force Lindegaard into action to maintain the lead. Substitute Maiga had a final attempt that went over leaving Utd to claim the points.
Well, can’t say it was the finest of games, but a win is a win. The position at the top of the table is still ours. That’s nice to say and Utd have always been good frontrunners. Reading away on Saturday, and I expect nothing less than another win. This will conclude the trio of games that I said nine points were needed from, and everything going to play we shall meet City as leaders.
Any thoughts below. If they are Utd related, of course :)