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It’s a five-tastic Christmas for United

Manchester United got the perfect Christmas send off as they brushed Fulham aside after a superb first half performance.

United got off to a flyer against QPR on Sunday, and things weren’t much different in their second visit to West London in four days.
With five minutes played, Nani was allowed to run down the left wing unchallenged and pull the ball back for Welbeck, setting up a simple finish for the youngster.

From then on it was a walk in the park for the Red Devils, although Fergie will be sweating over the fitness of Phil Jones and Ashley Young, as they both fell victim of injuries.

United confirmed pretty much the same line up that saw them beating QPR on Sunday, the only changes being Giggs coming in midfield, with Jones moved to right back and Smalling replacing Ferdinand in the heart of the defence, while Lindergaard replaced De Gea in goal.

Craven Cottage is a ground where Fergie’s men had struggled in the last few seasons, two defeats and a draw is a quite unimpressive record for any Ferguson-managed team, but they did their best to put the record straight.

Welbeck’s goal set up the tone for the rest of the half, with United in total control, so much that, at one stage, Fergie’s men had more than 60% of possession with Giggs and Carrick assuring composure and precision in the middle of the park.

The only sour note of the first half was that Jones had to be replaced by Young, after a suspect fractured cheekbone.

Just short of the half hour mark United found their second goal. Giggs played a short corner to Valencia, who returned the ball back to the Welsh for a perfect delivery that picked out Nani. The Portuguese winger, completely unmarked, headed the ball towards the far post where Stockdale could not reach it. 

Fulham’s own shortcomings were there for all to see: a lack of composure in midfield and a virtually non-existent presence up-front, where the absence of Zamora deprived the Cottagers of a physical cutting edge.

United, on the other hand, were at their mesmerizing best, threatening to create a chance every time they had the ball, with Nani, Young and Valencia proving no match for Fulham’s fullbacks.

United fans will be thrilled to see their team regaining some of the swagger that marked the first few months of the campaign. United looked dangerous going forward and they’ve added a new found stability at the back to their game.

Welbeck was, again, extremely positive up-front, interchanging position with Rooney and displaying a good first touch, which, perhaps, explains why Ferguson chose him instead of Hernandez in the starting eleven. For all of Chicarito’s qualities in front of goal, Welbeck guarantees a better all round play at the moment.

United had the game wrapped up just before half time, as Nani was, again, allowed all the time in the world to set up Giggs for a simple finish, Senderos’deflection sending the ball looping over a hapless Stockdale.

Despite Fulham’s best efforts the second half was nothing to write home about, except for Johnson forcing a couple of good saves from Lindergaard – the Dane is yet to concede a goal in the league – and Welbeck scooping a ball over the bar after a superb move from United.

Unfortunately for United, Young joined the already long list of casualties as he hobbled off the pitch after being tackled by Etuhu.

Ferguson did welcome Berbatov back though and, after Rooney had scored an absolute cracker from 20 yards out, the Bulgarian applied the finishing touch to a wonderful night for United by meeting Valencia’s cross with a wonderful back-heel.
The game might have been beyond Fulham’s reach by then but, in any other game, such goals, coming so late in the game, would have been met with sheer joy.

The United fans were, again, in full voice. For all the – probably deserved – stereotypes that surround United home support, their away fans are surely the best in the land.
The Red Army was ridiculously loud, making Craven Cottage look like a southern branch of the Stretford End, with all the classic tunes getting an airing: from Georgie Best, to Cantona and Ronaldo, United’s trilogy of number 7, amongst many others, received a thorough tribute from the traveling supporters.
Remarkably, United fans were the first to make fun of themselves as chants of “Channel 5 is wonderful” rang through the air of a mild winter night in West London.

7 wins on the road for United, a second consecutive clean sheet and, despite the injuries, a feeling of growing confidence within the team: a happy Christmas indeed.

Daniele Cancian (@MUFC_dan87)

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Ian

    21 December 2011 at 23:57

    No surprise the cleansheets returning coincides with a return to form for Rio.

    World. Class.

    Great read Dan, great work. Merry Xmas

    • RedDevilEddy

      22 December 2011 at 00:04

      @Ian: Rio didn’t play tonight though!! 😀

      Carrick deserves as much praise, we’ve only conceded 2 Premier League goals the entire season with him starting!

      • Ian

        22 December 2011 at 00:50

        I know that but but this surge in form is down to a lot of factors, for me though, the return of an in-form Rio is the major one. We were lucky to keep a cleansheet tonight imo.

        • RedDevilEddy

          22 December 2011 at 01:49

          @Ian: He’ll be out of Mondays encounter as well apparantley. I didn’t think we were solid defensivly today really, Fulham got to a lot of chances and had Lindegaard not been at his best we could easily have conceded. The injury to Jones didn’t help mind you!

      • Ian

        22 December 2011 at 00:52

        ….and, it’s a chance to pat myself and others on the back for not jumping on the Rio’s finished bandwagon. Really pissed me off that a few weeks ago. Where are his detractors now?

    • Daniele

      22 December 2011 at 13:36

      Cheers. It took me a while to write because when i got home from the Cottage i was still buzzing! Top,top atmosphere last night. Is it just me who thinks that the new Suarez chant is class? 😈

      We gave away chances, but by then was done and dusted. I must say that Carrick keeps impressing me, and Valencia definitely seems to be getting back to his best. I think he’s a big threat even when he plays as RB as he can run from deeper with Nani cutting inside, therefore, often, causing the opposing left to be caught in two minds.

      Merry Christmas everyone!

  2. RedDevilEddy

    22 December 2011 at 00:07

    My man Danny at it again, finally! :mrgreen:

    Your boy did well too Craig, really impressed by him tonight. Will put a lot of focus on Nani for the tactical analysis tomorrow, he was the key man for sure!

  3. ricky

    22 December 2011 at 00:09

    valencia starting to look like his old self again. also what about lindegaard, we havent conceded with him in goal for pl

  4. RedDevilEddy

    22 December 2011 at 00:11

    Fuck me that was a great shot from Wazza, can’t remember the last time I saw him score from that far out! But that makes it his 6th goal from outside the box this season, brilliant strike!

  5. Yang

    22 December 2011 at 07:24

    Welbeck set the tone of this game, as I mentioned before this young man know what he need to do. One of clever player who know how to work as a team. He can play as different roles it seems.

  6. thatboywazza

    22 December 2011 at 08:00

    Nani was brilliant,wellbecks movement and first touch was excellent.Rooneyis on his way to his bullish old self and Berba scored! When Rooney scored i swore he was gonna pass to nani,then he took that shot i almost jumped!Thats the Rooney i known love.

  7. karma

    22 December 2011 at 08:24

    This is what happens when we don’t mess about with the team selection!

    Oh my! Look at how Nani is flying!

    I nearly died when i saw Wazza’s swerving missile off the post!

  8. Stephen

    22 December 2011 at 09:35

    Fergie and is cowardice tactics again eh. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
    Great game and perfomance….Well done boys!!

  9. colver

    22 December 2011 at 11:22

    No mention of Giggs? Two assists and a goal. And he is pushing 40. This season 11 games 5 assists 1 goal. When he retires do we have a single player capable of playing in the centre of midfield and providing an average of assist every other game? Nope! I swear if we don’t buy a replacement for Giggs (Gotze or Gaitan or Sneijder) then we won’t win a thing. He is that important to the club.

    Agree that Rio has been hugely impressive of late. It is interesting. When we have either Vidic or Rio on form we don’t concede. But any combination of Smalling Evans and Jones in defence and we concede. It just goes to show how far the gap is between our young defenders and our ageing but still imperious experienced defenders. Of course Smalling Evans Jones are the future. But it is essential we always ensure we have at least one experienced defender in central defence.

    • Stephen

      22 December 2011 at 11:34

      @colver: Agreed, Giggsy deserves massive credit, but so does Carrick. He has taken a lot of stick but is playing sublimey. We are still in need of at least one centre mid and with Young and Jones out, maybe Fergie will be forced to do some business. He will not sign Gotze, which is obvious, but maybe Christain Eriksen as Rene Mulensteen was actually saying he is a posiblity.

    • Daniele

      22 December 2011 at 13:37

      Agree mate, he was superb. Giggsy defies logic.

    • gator

      22 December 2011 at 20:34

      yoga baby 😆

    • Craig Mc

      23 December 2011 at 10:39

      @colver: Errrr Nani got 2 assists and a goal, and he would have had 3 assists when he put Welbeck thru one on one with GK if Welbeck hadn’t have made the MOTHER of all MISSES! 🙄

      • RedDevilEddy

        24 December 2011 at 01:18

        @Craig Mc: Mother of all misses?

        Torres vs United
        Ronaldo vs Sheffield United, 2006/07
        Collymore vs Villa
        Park vs Boro, 2008
        Nani vs Fulham, 2010
        Nani vs West Ham, 2010
        Nani vs Arsenal, 2009

        🙂 Much love!

        • Craig Mc

          24 December 2011 at 13:26

          @RedDevilEddy: Dream on Eddi mi man – dream on. You do realise that Welbeck your man is A MAIN STRIKER, Nani is a wing player and main assister and nobody does it better – apart from the season Nani was like one or two assists behind Wazza. Nani should have a total sack full of assists, and would have if our main strikers could strike 😆 . At least Wazza is coming back to being a main striker now. when Danny hits more than he misses I will start giving him more credits 😀 . Don’t give me this whole he is only a young lad – so was Wazza and he got great goals for us. Anybody else want to take on the Craigster in the Nani warfare – but you better be prepared for a dirty fight and the mother of all BATTLES. No christmas spirit concessions here 😉 😉 😆 . Last home game I thought my eyes and ears were failing me, when the crowd gave Nani a standing ovation coming off the field, and the Stretty enders (salt of the earth fans) were singing ‘He plays on the left, he plays on the right, he is like Michael Jackson before he was white’. Fookin love those stretty ender lads!

        • RedDevilEddy

          24 December 2011 at 15:52

          @Craig Mc: I’ll join in with that against Blackburn, 5 CANTONAAAAAS! :mrgreen:

  10. Stephen

    22 December 2011 at 12:34

    I know this is a sensitive issue but the Liverpool players statement and their silly little T-shirts supporting Saurez really is in bad taste. We have all debated the rights and wrongs on this subject but did they really have to do this? He did call Evra a racially abusive name, for me that makes him a racist for others is doesn’t. But a club of Liverpool’s stature are basically condoning what he did, they should have worn the “kick racism out of football” T shirts that would have been in better taste. I am sick of this “the World is against us” siege mentality which they have tried to use use like Fergie, but yet again they failed…
    What he said was wrong in the Country and the league he plays in, Liverpool yet again show how far a great club has fallen and they should be ashamed.

    • Traverse

      22 December 2011 at 13:42

      @Stephen: They are a fucking disgrace. The Club. The Manager. The Team. The Fans. The whole fucking lot of of them are a disgrace to English football.

      They are desperate to make themselves out to be the victims. Suarez has been found guilty of racism on the football field. It should have been an 8 month ban, let alone 8 games. The players wearing t-shirts in support of a man convicted of racism is bad enough, but the dear leader doing it as well is taking the fucking biscuit. No decorum. No class.

      At this rate they’ll have a statue to Suarez by the end of the month.

      If I were a black Liverpool fan I’d be seriously pissed with my club. If a United player was FOUND GUILTY OF RACISM I’d be disgusted. I’d expect Fergie to be disgusted and I’d expect the players to be disgusted.

      I guess Liverpool are determined to not let racism walk alone. Talking of alone its worth pointing out their team picture featuring 25 white players and Glen Johnson.

      Maybe that tells us everything we need to know.

      • Stephen

        22 December 2011 at 13:59

        @Traverse: Totally agree, also Heysel wasn’t their fault either was it? They spend their lives being victims, I am sick and tired of the Justice for Hillsborough, but neglect Heysel. The wallow in their own self pity, calling us obsessed when all they talk about is us, see Micky Quinn on Talksport! If they said we respect the decision and and do not condone racism but will support our player then fair enough, they are scum and always have been.

    • Craig Mc

      24 December 2011 at 13:32

      @Stephen: Yeah mate and the Chelsea players wanted to do the same next game for John always in trouble Terry. But sanity prevailed and the Chelsea boardroom Gods said that kind of thing was inappropriate and wouldn’t help. The club were fully supporting him in the proper way – until the case is settled!

  11. RedDevilEddy

    22 December 2011 at 18:47

  12. ash is the man

    22 December 2011 at 20:58

    see what happens when nani is played on the LEFT with his free role? He is an amazing talent. When young is out left and nani foced right he is shackled. And valencia even tho he is very direct he knows how to cross a ball 🙂 Nani always for the left, always

  13. ash is the man

    22 December 2011 at 21:10

    Traverse dont be ridiculas, liverpool are not a racist club, they have had players n gog, heskey and johnson now. The players are just supporting their team mate as they obviously beleive he is NOT a racist. Its so easy to slaughter suaraz but the fact is evra insulted suaraz too and they both exchanged heated comments in the heat of the moment. And i will also state I am not defending suaraz either and nor am I a racist either.

    • Ian

      23 December 2011 at 01:09

      Spends too much time on Twitter.

      That’s the general tone of what’s turned into a fans club v club war of words. It’s a load of old bollocks. They’re as bad as each other.

      • Traverse

        23 December 2011 at 01:33

        @Ian: Dont tell me where I spend my time.

        • Ian

          23 December 2011 at 23:12

          Why not?

    • Traverse

      23 December 2011 at 01:31

      @ash is the man: I never said they were. I merely suggested there aren’t enough players there who might say to Dalglish “We’re not comfortable with this”, because as a largely white squad wont have encountered being racially abused.

    • Traverse

      23 December 2011 at 01:32

      @ash is the man: Also Suarez said in his own statement he wasn’t racially abused by Evra, so I’d like to know where you;re getting that information from.

  14. colver

    23 December 2011 at 02:14

    I think the return of Valencia to the first team also helps. The midfield against Fulham was the same midfield that helped us to the Champions League final last year. Young is a useful squad player to have but I don’t think there is any real doubt that Valencia and Nani are our strongest wingers and I think Nani can be just as effective on the left.

    • Robbie

      23 December 2011 at 11:42

      @colver: Valencia has certainly found his extra step or two of pace that he didnt seem to have a few weeks ago. With young looking like his confidence is shot it defo is a boost. Hopefully young will come back like his old self

  15. Robbie

    23 December 2011 at 11:39

    Good to hear that Jones isnt out for 5-6 weeks, hes one player that we cant afford to lose, Blackburn on Monday should be a very straightforward game with the form we are in, looking forward to Danny starting again, I hope we keep him up top, we are just that much extra threatening with him in there, hes suprised a lot of people this year and should continue, with Hernandez coming on in games that need a goal. It might even be a game where a few can get a rest perhaps.

  16. colver

    23 December 2011 at 11:56

    CraigMc why the rolled eyes? Surely you don’t feel threatened by Old Man Giggs? We all know Nani was the MOM. But lets give other players some credit as well. It’s not all about Nani. Giggs had a goal and two assists as well. And considering he has not been playing regularly this season he deserves a mention as well. Especially considering his advanced age. This is the 20th season he has scored in.

    • Craig Mc

      24 December 2011 at 00:29

      @colver: The rolled eyes were because I was talking about Danny boy stopping a Nani hat trick of assists by missing a sitter – Wow Colver we are touchy aren’t we? 😆 –

  17. dgame

    23 December 2011 at 18:01

    A statue of Ryan Giggs in front of OT and another one in London for Chelsea,Arsenal,Fulham,Totenham,Westham and Co to share 😀 …Ryan Giggs a true legend..

  18. gator

    23 December 2011 at 21:52

    suarez would get some slack from the public if he wasnt such a nasty player. constantly getting involved in nonsense on the pitch.

    like this

    • gator

      23 December 2011 at 21:57

      karma is a bitch hope he gets his ban extended… how do you say little toothy fella in spanish???

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