RVP bursts West Ham’s bubbles

Robin Van Persie scored the fastest goal in Premier League this season as Manchester United maintained their spot at the top of the table after a less than comfortable 1-0 win against West Ham United.

On a bitterly cold night at Old Trafford, the crowd were given the perfect winter warmer after 33 seconds of the game as Robin Van Persie produced a piece of brilliance to notch his ninth Premier League goal of the season.

The Dutchman received a pass from Tom Cleverley, before flicking the ball past Winston Reid and rounding the West Ham defender in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Dennis Bergkamp’s effort against Newcastle a few seasons ago. Once he had got past Reid, Van Persie saw his delicate lob helped past Jussi Jaaskelainen by a deflection off James Collins as United got off to the best possible start.

While the result would have pleased manager and supporters alike, United were again far from convincing and made hard work of a game that should have been pretty straight forward, despite the excellent effort put in by a workmanlike West Ham side.

After sixty abysmal minutes against QPR on Saturday, Ferguson partly reshuffled his line-up, confirming only some of the XI that had started four days ago, with Smalling, Cleverley, Hernandez and Carrick replacing Ferdinand, Young, Welbeck and Fletcher. After his brilliant cameo on Saturday, Anderson was handed a starting spot, replacing the suspended Paul Scholes alongside Tom Cleverley, a partnership that many amongst the United fans believe holds the key for their club’s future success.

Cleverley confirmed all that’s known about him – excellent touch, good vision and an ability to get in good positions – but unfortunately he also displayed all the many flows that still blight his game and have somehow hampered his development in recent weeks, for he often picks out the wrong option, loses the ball way too easily and has a tendency to over-complicate things.

Anderson, on the other hand, confirmed himself as United in-form midfielder, with an energetic display, coupled with some excellent touches.

Much has been made of United’s lack of tempo this season and the ones amongst the crowd that thought an early goal would improve the situation were soon to be deluded, as United slumped in this season’s all too familiar routine of passing the ball sideways, while making half-hearted attempts to penetrate the opposing back four.

In fact, apart from Kevin Nolan’s flick-on that found the side-netting with ten minutes played, the game developed without a single chance until the half-hour mark when Javier Hernandez displayed an excellent first touch to set himself up before forcing an excellent save from Jaaskelainen.

West Ham reemerged after half-time buoyed by their effort in the first 45 minutes and determined to hassle United with an array of high balls into the box, where Andy Carroll did nothing to justify neither his price-tag nor Allardyce’s decision to bring him to Upton Park.

United went close to double their tally five minutes after the restart when Cleverley’s shot fizzled over the bar, before Rooney called Jaaskelainen into action again ten minutes later with a precise curling effort that was palmed behind for a corner by the Finnish custodian.

Rooney, much like Cleverley, at times seemed to suffer from United’s lack of width. While the diamond formation might offer more protection and dynamism to the midfield, it strips United of the ability to stretch opponents on the flanks, a crucial component of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. Furthermore, United don’t quite possess the guile to “tiki-taka” their way into the box, definitely not against teams that are happy to set up camp at the edge of the box.

Ferguson tried to inject a bit of pace and width into the game when he replaced Cleverley with Young midway through the second half, before Rooney made way for Danny Welbeck 15 minutes later.

Despite the introduction of a traditional winger, United continued to create virtually nothing in terms of chances and had to thank Anders Lindegaard, who pulled off a superb save to deny Carlton Cole four minutes from time. The save ensured United’s first clean sheet in the last ten games in all competition, and kept United a point ahead of City and seven ahead of Chelsea who were held to a 0-0 draw by Fulham.

Not one for the annals but Fergie knows perfectly well that, come May, results such as tonight’s could spell the difference between joy and despair.

 

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)

 

17 Comments

  1. Great result.

    There are a lot of games to play this month and when they’re coming at you thick and fast its nice to bag 3 points on an other wise forgetable night.

    Well done to RVP for adding to his already decent goal tally. (If it will be recorded as his despite the deflection)

    Now for Reading. Cluj mid-week. Then the big one, the Manchester Derby.

    It will be round two of the title race showdowns. We beat Chelsea in round one.

    We have to put City in their place.

    Just wish Kagawa and Vida could be with us at a time like this.

  2. We’re 12 points ahead of Arsenal, 7 points ahead of Chelsea, 1 point ahead of City and 17 points ahead of Liverpool.

    It looks like the title race is going to be a two horse race again between the Manchester Giants.

    Thats why the first Manchester Derby is so important.

    If we can’t win it then we at least have to draw.

    I don’t know that we have the squad to put City in their place. Their place just might be above us…

  3. The City game now is massive, I would take a draw but feel we could win. Fergie needs to be brave and play an attacking side as their defence isn’t what is was last season.
    Reading on Saturday should be routine, but we never seem to play that well on the Saturday, 5.30 games.

    • @Stephen: We have to beat Reading. I don’t know if it will be routine or not. It could be tough.

      But we must come away from Reading with 3 points.

      Dropping points at Reading will give City too much motivation.

      You would expect them to deal with an Everton side that is struggling for form at the moment, when they face them on Saturday.

      If they were to come into the Manchester Derby 1 or 2 points ahead of us it would make things difficult for us.

      But if we maintain our 1 point lead the pressure will be on them to get a result.

  4. Agreed, I would expect City to dispatch Everton on Saturday. City themselves have been like us quite lucky this season. If Everton fancy it, they could get at least a draw. My concern for us is we do not have a settled team. We have no idea who will be playing in goal. who will be in the back four, who will play midfield or what are formation will be. We have got away with this so far this season, but we need to settle this down.

  5. Great to get a clean sheet even at the expensive of less chances being created!

    Poor performance by Tom Cleverley,I’m beginning to think he should play the Carrick role and just be there to intercept play and get our attacks moving.He plays some good 1-2 stuff at times,but when that’s not going for him he has nothing.Lost the ball on too many occassions last night

    Rafael is immense!Definitely the most consistent player thus far.He’s still young and has so much potential to be a future great.

    Don’t like Wayne dropping back so deep,don’t mind him tracking back a few times but he’s definitely not a centre mid.Free Role to him please.

    Kagawa will prove vital in unlocking defenses this season,yesterday was a prime example of what we’re likely to face against lower opposition.I wonder how he would do on the left(and drifting in).He was excellent in that role against Spurs.

    I feel really sorry for Welbeck,being played as a winger when he has no clue how to do so(well neither does Yung :mrgreen: ) and now Reds are slating him off big time.If he’s gonna be playing as a winger,why train as a striker??

    Speaking of Young,if he’s gonna be that shit on the wings,play him behind the striker(although he’d be my 3rd choice in that role behind Rooney and Kagawa) atleast there he makes a few better runs and causes more trouble.

    Oh,Anderson’s new diet has done wonders 😛

  6. This season is baffling one so far. We haven’t played particularly well but we stand top of the league behind an unbeaten City side. Liverpool are allegedly re-building as side which probably wasn’t in need of re-building who are 12th. QPR who are now a side I despise sack a manager who they said a week ago wasn’t going anywhere and replace him with a manager who was tipped to be the next England manager and finished 4th, they are now 5th thanks to a manger who failed at one of their rivals.. Newcastle give their manager a 7 year contract thanks to a “good season” but now sit 14th. Chelsea sack a manager who won the FA Cup, Champions League only 6 months ago, who was also only 4 points off the top. They replace him with an “interim” manager who would command a high salary, as well as paying off the previous one, who won the club the holy rail. Aston Villa who sit just off the relegation refuse to select a striker, for their squad, who cost £24m.
    Football bloody hell.

    • @Stephen: The Premier League has certainly taken a nose dive in quality. Remember the noughties? Those were the days. The Champions of England have been humbled on the European stage not only this season but the season before that. Spain, Germany, and even Italy have overtaken us in my opinion.

      • @Moscow: I think EPL and Britain are going through a footballing renaissance, which will stunt it for the next 5-10 years but bring them back to top once emphasis is placed on technique rather than brutish features such as long balls (West Ham), long throws (Stoke), parking bus (many), overly physical defending (Stoke), etc.

        Teams such as Swansea and Southampton are carrying the torch for the future, with their playing style and if they avoid relegation this year will only get stronger and their style more established. Also, the influx of spanish/technical players will only help along with a new generation of managers (Laudrup, AVB, (OGS?) etc..) replacing the old EPL guard (Fergie, Wenger, Allardyce, O’Neill, Moyes, etc.).

  7. Moscow, The Premier League is madness. I agree Spain and Germany for me are ahead of us, no doubt. I think the Italian league is suffering at the moment with a lack of money, Juve are the exception for me.
    This league depresses me somewhat, the noughties were a golden time in this Country, now it is full greedy mercenaries, big ego’s overrated British players and stupid owners.
    And Manchester United 😀

  8. I thought we gonna score many goals after that quick fire start. But West Ham defended really well and I think we missed Valencia on the flank very much. Still, 3 points is what matter the most.

  9. Messi has scored an incredible 82 goals this year! Some teams collectively dont even score that much, even bigger teams in a whole season!!! What a player!

    And he can add more till the end of the year! Keeps on scoring them doubles and hatricks every now and then! Any bets for him becoming the first player ever to score 100 goals in a calender year!!! (Maybe Pele has done already as he would make you believe but still this is in modern Europe we are talking about)

      • Yeah Daniele. Why don’t we just sign Messi.

        Whats stopping us?

        But he might not be so great at United.

        Like a fish out of water is a Lionel Messi out of ‘tiki taka’

      • @Daniele: is there a rule somewhere that we talk only about things connected with united only?

        Then why does the special one come over here so often?

        • @jos: No rules mate, just seemed a bit out of context that’s all. I know Mourinho is often mentioned, but almost always when we discuss who will replace Fergie.

          For what it’s worth it, Messi is phenomenal but give me Ronaldo any day.

    • @jos: Its absolutely crazy isnt it…I think he could to 100 or a high niney something which is means he probably would outscore most premiership teams!

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