According to Wayne Rooney, it’s too soon to consider Arsenal favourites to win the Premier League this season and the United striker has played down the Gunners’ threat ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Old Trafford.
After losing at home to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, Arsenal have gone to register eight wins and a draw in the next nine games and currently sit at the top of the table, five points clear of second-placed Chelsea, but Rooney insists it’s too soon to draw conclusions.
David Moyes has refused to criticise Ashley Young after the United winger appeared yet again to dive in order to win a penalty last night against Real Sociedad, as United squandered three good opportunities to take a decisive step towards qualification in Group A.
In his latest attempt to usurp Tom Daley’s spot in Britain’s diving team, Young went to ground with customary ease five minutes after coming a substitute, when Sociedad defender Markel Bergara appeared to slightly pull his shirt after Young had played a quick one-two with Shinji Kagawa just inside the box.
For a game played on Bonfire Night, United’s 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad showed a remarkable lack of spark, which still leaves United one point clear of Bayer Leverkusen and three clear of Shakthar Donetsk, with a trip to Germany likely to play a big role in deciding United’s destiny in Group A.
Hardly an ideal scenario by any means, and one that could have been easily avoided had United done just a little bit more tonight.
Manchester United will take on Real Sociedad tonight knowing that a win in San Sebastian would put them on pole-position to clinch qualification to the round of 16, as United enter tonight’s match only three points away from the 10-point tally that is normally considered crucial to progress to the second stage of the competition.
In the first half at least, Saturday’s win against Fulham showed glimpses of the ruthless and clinical United of yesteryear and having won the last four matches in all competitions and having extended their unbeaten run to seven games, David Moyes wants to continue such a positive run ahead of Sunday’s clash against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
David Moyes has demanded protection for Adnan Januzaj, but has told the Belgian teenager that he can expect to be on the receiving end of some rough treatment and must learn from Lionel Messi’s example when it comes to handle late tackles and unorthodox strategies.
Januzaj was stamped on by Sascha Riether at Fulham on Saturday, with the German full-back now charged with violent conduct by the FA, after he appeared to intentionally leave his studs on Januzaj’s leg as the Belgian defended the ball by the corner flag in Fulham’s defensive third of the pitch, late in the second half.
After a summer during which he seemed destined to leave Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround of form, enjoying his best form of the last couple of years and proving pivotal to United’s mini-revival that has seen them going unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions.
David Moyes, who must be grateful for the much-needed four wins in a row United have secured over the last two weeks, has praised Rooney’s contribution, hailing the 28-year-old has United’s new leader after yet another inspired performance on Saturday.
It was an afternoon of fun, beers were joyfully consumed, classic songs were belted out with gusto and United seemed to slightly regain the swagger of yesteryear. It was, in other words, the sort of afternoon that had proved all too rare so far this season.
Except that United’s leisurely stroll along the Thames could have been even better had Moyes’ men capitalised on a formidable start that had them three goals up within 24 minutes, rather than sit back and negotiate the second half with all the intensity of an 18-year-old waking up stranded on a park bench after a monumental night out.
Manchester United travel to Fulham today searching for the continuity that’s been sorely missing so far this season as the Reds seek to secure their first back-to-back league wins of the campaign at Craven Cottage.
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