Jan 20

Snow fight at the lane ends all square

Tag: Match Reports @ 7:26 pm

imageAfter the snow that had covered most of the country over the last few days and threatened to postponed the match, today’s fixture at White Hart Lane was always going to be about grit.

Plenty of it was spread across the northern corner of the capital to ensure the game could go on as normal, and United showed grit in abundance as they defended for their lives during a frantic second half.

Their defensive effort ultimately proved to be a few seconds too short, as Clint Dempsey tucked away Aaron Lennon’s pass in the last of three minutes of added time to deprive United of the chance of going seven points clear at the top.

The circumstances upon which the equaliser matured would have hurt the travelling fans as much as the players, but Spurs deserved to snatch a point for United sat back too deep and too soon.

A game that had started slowly, bursted into life after 25 minutes, when a lovely interchange of passes between Kagawa and Carrick freed Danny Welbeck out on the left, before the England international switched play for Cleverley who crossed for Van Persie to head home.

It was the Dutchman’s 18th league goal of the season, and one that highlighted how important Shinji Kagawa can be when played in the right position.

The Japanese was deployed just behind Van Persie, with Welbeck and Cleverley providing width ahead of a midfield that offered vision, in Carrick, and muscle – Phil Jones.

Both midfielders were superb throughout the 90 minutes, Carrick displaying the usual composure that has brought Sir Alex to describe this season as the Geordie’s best in a United shirt, while Jones staked a solid enough claim to be played as midfield destroyer more often.

Spurs that had so impressed at Old Trafford, were restricted to a wide shot by Defoe and an effort by Bale superbly saved by De Gea, after it had taken a deflection off Ferdinand.

Defoe went close again after the restart before Dempsey forced a fantastic instinct save from De Gea after Dembele had ghosted through the United back four.

With an hour gone Kagawa was replaced by Rooney and the United number 10 had almost an immediate impact on the proceedings, with a penalty shout against Steven Caulker turned down.

United were inviting Spurs on now, De Gea repelling another effort from Dempsey, before Welbeck failed to get on the end of a good cross from Rafael.

The fact that a player like Welbeck who works his socks off every game, plays where asked to and is wonderfully talented gets criticised by a section of the United fans, highlights how spoilt some supporters can be.

Ferdinand’s superb block on Defoe with little than 10 minutes to go seemed to have been enough for United to register their ninth win in the last 12 games at White Hart Lane but, just when Fergie was savouring a seven point gap, United’s defence finally gave way as Dempsey poked home a dramatic, but deserved, equaliser.

Different factors will provide United some solace tonight. Five points is still a decent, but by no means decisive, margin to have and the defensive performance was excellent for 92 minutes.

Furthermore, United have taken 10 points out of a possible 12 from the traditionally tricky fixtures v Liverpool, Chelsea, City and now Spurs, a trip to Arsenal remains the hardest challenge to navigate (on paper) between now and May.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)


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Tags: Match Reports

9 Responses to “Snow fight at the lane ends all square”

  • Goal notwithstanding, that was a pretty decent defensive display.

    What the team really needed was an outlet on the wing. The formation could have done with one out of Valencia, Nani or Young, in form and healthy. That, and Rooney getting back into form.

    Though to be honest, for once in a long time, the possibility of Rooney not being on the pitch is not worrying. With Kagawa starting to find his touch, Wellback a good last ball away from being a pretty good striker, and Chicharito as accurate as ever, we can wait for Rooney to find form.

    What we can’t wait for though, is at least one winger to come good on the right… and it may be: Young.

  • Rooney being twice the player Kagawa is, is a truly lazy and completely unfounded statement. When it comes to Rooney the bias is probably unprecedented. I think he’s good enough, but I also believe he is a form player. Kagawa has not been a huge flame since being signed, but neither has he been consistently playing. To call him half the player Rooney is, is ridiculous. For all we know, he could prove the better player. First because he does have better vision, can complete some innovative passes and generally passes better. Technically a better player as well. What he needs is to find form and I suspect Ferguson playing him more frequently these last games, is a desperation to get him completely fit and in form. The pressure has to come off RvP and a fit, in form Kagawa could prove to be the clutch into a forward gear. We need at some point to acknowledge the realities that surround our team. The rotation plus injuries and the mostly unnecessary tinkering is hindering the flow and form of our game. This naturally affects the players, particularly those not consistently in the squad. It’s not rocket science. That’s why players like Carrick and Cleverly are playing well and others like Kagawa and Welbeck are decent but not explosive.

    With Kagawa it’s less black and white. There are issues from his side. He does need to find a way to defeat the physicality and rugby nature of the Premier League. Same as De Gea. It took Silva time too. Same as Mata. It’s not been a wonderful season from Hazard so far as well. The mistake is taking the instant coffee approach and expecting results there and then. For some players transition is made easy by the manager, players and critically the style of football and role. Like Carzola. Arsenal naturally play to his strengths. Not much emphasis on physicality but more technical aspects like passing and movement. Kagawa at Arsenal would have been an instant hit. They do know how to make technical players fit in easily. It’s their style of play but also the astute managing of roles. Kagawa needs to be played in a definite role continuously that brings out his best qualities. The more central he is and at the same time the more advanced he plays, the better the football that we see from him. I still stick to the thought that we need to let go of the winger system if we’re to get better performances. The majority of our personnel is not suited for it. In any case, we have great attacking fullbacks who can do what wingers do. If we attack more narrowly we get the best out of players like RvP,Kagawa, Anderson,Nani,Rafael and Rooney and Welbeck. Pretty much most of the squad. 3 attackers behind RvP namely, Rooney,Kagawa and Nani, from left to right. All 4 ahead of Carrick and Anderson or Cleverly with the former less mobile than the latter.

    • The_Philosopher

      @Jay wire: Breath of fresh air. Great post. Very well said.

      And I agree completely with your set up. Rooney on the left of the attack RVP in the middle with Nani coming in from the right.

      Kagawa with three targets to pass to on the break away, while Cleverley and Carrick win the ball back in the middle.

      Another variation would be: RVp on the left with Rooney playing done the middle and Nani wide right. Evra and Rafael overlapping on the flanks.

      I like the midfield combination of Kagawa Cleverley and Carrick.

      Anderson can provide midfield impetus in a 4-4-2 formation with RVP and Rooney upfront and Valencia and Nani manning the wings. Anderson being anchored by Carrick.

      Its the midfield three that gets me excited: Kagawa, Cleverley, Carrick or Rooney, Anderson Carrick. They’re both great combinations.

      I don’t know where to put Ashley Young at the moment.

    • @Jay wire: one to one kagawa is probally the more gifted player than rooney, but overall as a man united player i believe rooney is the better fit. We just look the same without him, nd a combo of rvp and rooney is better than kagawa and rvp, i really dont know how this situation will play out and i wonder what we will go with against madrid

  • Van Persie just keeps on scoring!

    De Gea flapped at the ball for it land right at Lenon’s feet. Bad mistake. Fergie needs to sort this part of his game out.

    Is it too hard to punch a ball with both arms? Why doesn’t he use both his arms if he can’t get enough power out of one arm?

    If you can get one hand to it then you can get both hands to it.

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