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Young puts United in the right Lane for the title

Manchester United followed the “smash and grab” cliché to perfection as Ashley Young struck twice in the second half to seal a huge win for the Reds, which keeps them within two points of league leaders Manchester City.

Wayne Rooney had put United ahead on the stroke of half time – confirming his status as big game player – the only time they had looked dangerous in the first 45 minutes, while Jermain Defoe got a late consolation goal for Spurs.

Ferguson had described this fixture as the one to “survive” in order to keep his team’s title dreams alive and chose an attacking line-up with Rooney and Welbeck up-front, supported by Young, Nani, Scholes and Carrick in midfield while the back five were unchanged.

Spurs, who hadn’t won in their last 21 Premier League games against United, were without the suspended Parker, with the injured Bale and Van der Vaart also missing.

The home side were quickly on top though, with Sandro and Livermore chasing and pressing Scholes and Carrick in midfield, leaving the United duo no time on the ball, while Modric and Lennon were happy to drift inside from the wings as United seemed happy to sit back.

The first real opening of the game came after 19 minutes when, after a poor clearance by DeGea, Sandro headed in the path of Emmanuel Adebayor whose low shot was well parried by the young Spaniard.

Adebayor then had a goal ruled out for handball, as he was judged to have adjusted the ball with his left arm before flicking it in the back of the net after he had been struck by a Louis Saha’s shot, following an excellent run from Lennon.

Spurs enjoyed the better of the possession while United held on, superbly marshaled by the excellent Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans.

The duo have been in excellent form throughout the last few weeks and their performances will be pivotal to United’s fortunes for the rest of the campaign.

United would have been happy to go in level at half time but found themselves ahead when Wayne Rooney eluded Kyle Walker’s attention to head in a corner from Ashley Young just as the clock signaled 45 minutes.

The striker has now scored three goals against Arsenal and Chelsea and two against Liverpool, City and Spurs this season.

Spurs started the second half in the same attacking fashion and DeGea rescued United with a wonderful save, after Livermore’s shot had been deflected by Saha.

Redknapp’s men looked dangerous every time they had the ball, with Assou-Ekotto hitting the top of the crossbar with a sweetly struck free-kick, but United were to find solace on the break yet again.

Welbeck earned a throw on Tottenham’s left flank and the Spurs’ defence was caught napping as Nani was allowed to run unmark in the box before slipping the ball towards Rooney.

Walker’s attempted clearance sent the ball looping towards Ashley Young at the far post, and the former Villa man composed himself in time to hit a perfect volley to give United a 2-0 lead against the run of play.

Nine minutes later, Young put the game beyond Spurs with a wonderful strike from 25 yards out, reminiscent of his goal against Arsenal earlier in the season.

The North Londoners couldn’t regroup and Defoe’s goal late following a misplaced pass from Ryan Giggs – who had replaced fellow veteran Paul Scholes while Park had come on for a largely below par Nani – was nothing more than a consolation.

United will be delighted with the result if not with the performance that was patchy for large spells of the game and have now no games left against top six opponents until they face City away on the 30th of April after registering away wins at Arsenal, Norwich and Tottenham, an away draw at Chelsea – after having been 3-0 down – and a home win against Liverpool.

Today’s result was the sign of a team that has got every chance of winning the league. Much like a cyclist who refuses to give in to the runaway leader in a mountain stage, United are firmly on City’s tail and will be buoyed by their recent results.

Furthermore, United have been there before. City have not.


Daniele (@MUFC_dan87)



  1. RedDevilEddy

    4 March 2012 at 21:36

    It’s on days like today, and last week’s fixture against Norwich, that Champions are made. Shit performance today, absolutely shit, but in the end it’s all about scoring goals(Eh Craig?)! Thankfully we scored a corner, WOW, and two absolute beauties. City before, we are coming! 😈

  2. ash is the man

    4 March 2012 at 22:01

    always said young was quality. He needs confidence and fitness. He outshined nani again today

    • Craig Mc

      5 March 2012 at 15:40

      @ash is the man: Errrr don’t piss me off Ash – because your namesake Ash only got his 2nd goal with the help of Nani – so put that in your pipe and smoke it mate 😆 😆 :evil

      Also Nani’s pass for Ash’s 2nd goal was right across the goalmouth and Wazza almost put it in 1st, and it took out 7 spurs players and counting – so stop hating on Nani you rotten lot. Not only that but the 2nd goal was the most important in that it deflated spurs when they were just getting on top soon after half time. I mean it lads – don’t piss off the Craigster, or I will set Rimmers on you all – hahaha! :

  3. RedDevilEddy

    4 March 2012 at 23:20

    Ash is the motherfucking man!

    • ash is the man

      5 March 2012 at 01:11

      @RedDevilEddy: 😉

    • Stephen

      5 March 2012 at 10:15

      @RedDevilEddy: Eddy, you are the oracle!! Ash needed a big game and her certainly produced. He just needs to keep it up, especially as Nani’s form had now dropped.

      • RedDevilEddy

        5 March 2012 at 12:03

        @Stephen: Yesterday was made up for Young. It fitted all of his caracteristics.

        1. Form player
        2. Playing against someone who meant something for his former team.
        3. Massive game!
        4. Focus needed

        Having seen Young play footy ever since he got up with Watford in 2006, I know he’s always been a confidence player. Very much like Rooney, or Valencia, when he’s on form he’s impossible to stop. His focus is there, his confidence is there, and playing against his former room-mate in Kyle Walker he was defo going to be up for it. When you play against a good mate of yours the attacking player always has the advantage, very much like at Old Trafford in August when Walker went off at HT because Ashley gave him a torrid time. And despite having a lot of critics on this site, there are two areas where you can’t fault Ashley. And that’s work-rate, and determination. He works hard defensively, and actually helped Evra look good last night! When it comes to set-plays, we may not be good at them but they decide so many big-games it’s no wonder Young’s been pivotal in clashes against City, Arsenal, Chelsea and now Spurs. 6 of his 9 assists have been in these games, so he deserves some credit. You could sense we would score from that corner, it’s typical United to break free when we’ve got our backs and neck-hair against the wall. Brilliant corner by the way!

        Ever since he scored that goal against Ajax he has looked good. He runs at his opponents more often, and hate him all you want but he’s got one of the best crossing foots in the League. Only fault is that they’re practically always going to the back post, which I feel is a good think as he cuts inside on his right more often than not, but Chicha and Welbeck seem more keen on attacking the front one for some reason or another. As soon as people start attacking the far post, like Giggsy did against Norwich, he is gonna produce goals every week. He only needs to make one cross during the whole of 90 minutes and we can score if we make the right runs, just need to take advantage!

    • Daniele

      5 March 2012 at 11:22

      @RedDevilEddy: People can criticise and moan all they like but can anybody tell me when was the last time we had 3 wingers that could produce – albeit at different stages of the season – match winning moments? I would go as far as saying that we haven’t had them since Sharpe,Kanchelskis and Giggs. And I’m NOT saying that Young, Nani and Valencia are as good, simply that they provide us with choices we didnt have on the wings until this season. And no, I don’t consider Ronaldo a winger.

      • Craig Mc

        5 March 2012 at 15:48

        @Daniele: Your not saying that Young and Valencia are as good but that Nani is as good – right? Something wrong with my eyesight – Nah you did say Nani is as good which he is 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

  4. jos

    5 March 2012 at 05:58

    Is it just me or others also feel that with Welbeck it is like Utd playing only with 10 men on the field! He was so lost yesterday, esp in the first half.
    I would gladly have Chicha or Berba starting over him at the moment. The lad needs serious work to make presence felt in the middle!

    • Daniele

      5 March 2012 at 09:57

      @jos: to be honest in the first half it was like playing with 3 men – Rio,Evans and DDG. I think that Welbeck has come leaps and bounds this season but, obviously, like any other striker, he can’t be as effective if starved of chances by our midfield. As much as I love Chicha, i don’t think he would have made any difference as Welbeck’s much better than him when it comes to hold up play. Berb could’ve been a good idea but i think Fergie wanted to have pace up-front to catch Spurs on the break.

      • Stephen

        5 March 2012 at 10:06

        @Daniele: Welbeck is an odd one for me. I struggle to see what he brings to the BBQ. He is strong and atheltic, but is he really United quality? I don’t think so.
        I will say to all the anti English brigade on here, 7 of the starters came form England and Evans is Northern Irish. Not many sides can boast that quota.

        • Daniele

          5 March 2012 at 11:12

          @Stephen: I think Welbeck is quality, his link-up play is brilliant and his first touch his better than Chica’s even though he’s not as lethal in the box.

        • Craig Mc

          5 March 2012 at 16:03

          @Daniele: Goals win games, not pee-ing around with so called link up play which rarely reaches its mark in Welbecks case. If he comes good fair enough I will pat him on the back – but I’m not holding out too much hope – but I’ve been wrong before so who knows 😉

        • Daniele

          5 March 2012 at 11:26

          @Stephen: and i agree with you mate about England. I couldn’t care less about them as im totally indifferent, like the majority of United fans, but how Carrick can’t get in the starting 11 is a mystery. Gareth Barry is an abomination of a player, who looks good only because he’s got Toure and Silva alongside him and don’t even get me started on the JT vs Rio debate. In all honesty though, as much I’d like them to go to Poland & Ukraine (players love playing for England), I wouldn’t complain at all if they got to stay home and have a rest during the summer.

        • Craig Mc

          5 March 2012 at 16:04

          @Stephen: Stephen mi man – you don’t know what Welbeck brings to the barbecue – err SAUSAGE maybe? 😀

        • Stephen

          5 March 2012 at 16:08

          @Craig Mc: It certainly isn’t goals mate! 😆

        • Craig Mc

          5 March 2012 at 16:15

          @Stephen: 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 you are so right – but lets hope for better days ahead eh – NOT 😉

        • Daniele

          5 March 2012 at 20:45

          @Craig Mc: that goal against Arsenal could prove quite important by the end of the season…. 😈

        • Craig Mc

          5 March 2012 at 21:43

          @Daniele: Do you mean Welbeck’s goal Daniele???

        • RedDevilEddy

          5 March 2012 at 21:53

          @Craig Mc: Yes he does, because Welbeck is my baby and no-one shall say anything about him or else I will come to Manchester/Newcastle and smack a ball at the back of your head 50 yards away, and you can’t do anything about it!

      • jos

        5 March 2012 at 10:50

        @Daniele: How many goals have United scored this season? Still midfield is culprit!!! I thought we have quite comfortably dominated quite a decent number of games this season (obviously there were some bad games but thats true for every club out there).
        It was just that with Welbeck I dont see any goal threat at all! He looks, acts too clumsy, too timid and always chooses the wrong option! I think Fergie is playing him instead of Chicha or Berba (which is massively disfavoring the two) just to aid his growth. But this can hurt us bad in an odd game. At this stage of the season I would much rather have guile and experience of Berba or Chicha. Fergie can do his experimentations in Europa.

        • Daniele

          5 March 2012 at 11:15

          @jos: I didn’t criticise the midfield mate, i was referring to yesterday’s game. Look, I love both Chicha and Berb but Hernandez’s first touch isn’t excellent and Berb slows the game down at times and in games like yesterday, where the only chances are on the break, you need pace up-front. Anyway, we got 3 huge points and that’s all that matters! 🙂

    • Craig Mc

      5 March 2012 at 15:50

      @jos: Ignore the ones who gave you thumbs down mate – you are totally right about Welbeck – he pisses about a lot right, but the end result more often than not is nowhere.

      • RMJ

        5 March 2012 at 18:42

        @Craig Mc: while welbecks done well, his problems are sort of endemic of english players that have cropped up lately save a few. All of them have excellent first touch, make a pass and are top notch physically but are dreadful off the ball. I would go so ar as to say even Rooney sometimes tends to have this problem.

        if there is anything that puts Scholes and Carrick differently from any English midfielder is their off the ball movement and how they receive the pass doing so.

        • Craig Mc

          5 March 2012 at 21:40

          @RMJ: Mate are you being serious 😀 . All of the English players have excellent 1st touch ??? – Wazza and Welbeck are just two I can think of whom I am always complaining about lack of 1st touch – because invariably they let the ball roll away from them. Just saying like – 😆 .

  5. RedDevilEddy

    5 March 2012 at 12:21

    I’ve been a voice of criticism when it’s come to our set-plays this season, and I still am of course, but I think games like yesterday prove exactly why Young should always start on the left wing. Nani, for all his skill and vigour, never seems to produce his best on the left, and his corners/free kicks are absolutely horrible! I remember in 2007/08, when his corners got us lots of goals including some vital ones against Blackburn, Liverpool, and Fulham, but I can’t remember us scoring directly from one of his corners since. This season he’s taken it to a new low, never getting it past the first man. He should compete with Valencia for the spot on the right wing, but that’s for another day. Right now I wanna focus on corners!

    United have been shit from corners/free kicks this season, but all the ones we have scored have been absolutely vital. The goal that started the comeback in the CS against City, the opening goals against Chelsea, Liverpool at Old Trafford, and now Spurs, and the equaliser against Liverpool at Anfield, have all come from dead-ball situations. If we don’t win the title this season it’s gonna be because we’ve been shit at defending set-plays, but if we win it we may have to look towards Ashley Young for his services in those areas. I always felt that David Beckham never got enough credit for his set-plays in the past, because he made vital contributions from those areas time after time. Not talking scored free kicks, but rather corners. You only have to look at the Treble season in 1999, where some of our most important goals came courtesy of his delivery. Keano’s goal against Juventus that started the comeback, Yorke’s first against Charlton, the equaliser against Liverpool, and the two Champions League final goals. Only in recent years we’ve had some amazing ones, like Rio’s last-minute goal against Liverpool in 2006, our first 2 goals in the 4-2 comeback against Everton in 2007, Sheasy’s winner at the Kop the same year, Vidic against Chelsea in 2009, Fletcher’s second against City in the 4-3 win during the 2009/10 season, as well as Wazza’s Carling Cup semi-final winner that same year. They’re vital, and the contribution Ashley Young makes in those areas should never be underestimated. I actually don’t get why he doesn’t take free-kicks for us either, but we’ll see. As for now, I hope he makes that left-wing spot his own.

  6. Traverse

    5 March 2012 at 12:27

    I think we deliberately sat back and let Spurs keep the ball for long periods yesterday knowing how great Spurs are on the break. Johnny Evans is having a brilliant run and clearly learning much from Rio. Rio is still the best CB in the world when fit as far as I’m concerned. He just reads the game so well, while marshalling the rest of the defence around him. DGG had ANOTHER blinder. We’re never going to get articles in the papers about how great he is, but at least they’ve stopped the dumb campaign against him.

    If we play that badly and win every game to the end of the season I’ll be fine with that, and probably have a heart attack!

  7. colver

    5 March 2012 at 12:33

    Daniele I think you are being a little harsh. Valencia has been a revelation since joining us impressing in Europe and the Premier League. Never has a bad game and is quietely very effective. Nani is inconsistent but it is very different to fault his stats. There aren’t many wingers in the world better than Valencia and Nani.

    Young I have not made my mind up about. I agree with Eddie’s assertion that he is a form player. Of course the downside of having a form player is that you have the endure long runs of games where he looks incredibly ordinary. But I cannot deny his contribution in some of the big games this season has been huge.

  8. colver

    5 March 2012 at 12:36

    Agree Johnny Evans and De Gea deserve a lot of credit. De Gea in particular. He will never be a commanding keeper the way Schmeichel and EVDS were. But if he is given sufficient protection by his defence he will make awesome saves that over a season add up to at least a dozen points saved.

  9. RedDevilEddy

    5 March 2012 at 12:48

    I am too young to know this, but for all the lads who watched Peter when he first arrived… How was he in his first season? I mean, was he as commanding as people make him out to be? I know how he was 1996 and onwards, but can’t remember anything of that before. Was he the screaming beast we all know him to be in his first seasons?

  10. RedDevilEddy

    5 March 2012 at 13:01

    I think Young will be a revelation next season. Every player needs time to bed in, and if there is one good thing about Young not having the best of seasons this time around is that the “second-season syndrome” won’t be a problem for him. Besides, he is a Premier League player and knows the League. We always knew he would need a season to settle in, and despite looking decent at times this season we will probably see the best of him next season.

    Another factor in that prediction is that Vidic will be back. I don’t know if I’m the only one who has noticed this, but whenever we get a corner Evans is the only one getting in the box. Rio always stays backs, for some odd reason. Only once have I seen him go up for a corner this season, and that was when Chicha scored at Anfield because we were in desperate search for a goal. Evans has never scored for United, and he’s not really the physical threat going forward, whereas Vidic is a beast bost defensively and offensivly. I mean, the fact that Rooney has scored 2/3s of our corner goals this season speaks volumes. I think Young and Vidic have only played 2 games togehter this season, at home to Newcastle and away to Villa. Yeah they started against Basel, West Brom, and City in the Charity Shield, but Vidic went off injured in all those games after 50 minutes or earlier. When we get him back we’ll have a bigger threat from set-plays, and of course with Ashley’s delivery I think those two will become a potent threat. Playing Champions League football will probably bring the best out of Ashley as well, as he always seems to produce his best form when coming up against big teams. I think he only started two CL games for us this autumn, scoring once, and he’s already got a goal in the Europa League as well. Not only has he produced well for United in pivotal clashes, but looking at his history for England and Villa you can see my point. He always seemed to find his form against the big teams, in 2009/10 I remember him getting 3 goals and 5 assists in just three games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. He also got the only assist of the game in Villa’s only victory against United the past 10 years the same season, when Agbonlahor headed the winner past Van Der Sar at Old Trafford. Last season he produced two brilliant passes for Bent to score twice at the Emirates, so he’s always had it in him. Some people just have a knack of popping up with vital contributions in big games, like Rooney, Ronaldo, Giggsy, and Tevez used to do. Ashely is definately in that category.

    • Craig Mc

      5 March 2012 at 15:55

      @RedDevilEddy: We’ll see when Young is marked as consistently as Nani with 2 or 3 markers on him most games, Young had one marker yesterday and in most games – so we’ll see. I told you not to piss me off, and if any of you give me thumbs down I have a very good sharp axe to chop things off with 😉 😉 😆 😆 😆

      • RedDevilEddy

        5 March 2012 at 16:15

        @Craig Mc: One bad game from Nani and you go on a rampage, had Stephen or I been like you defending our favorites it would be blood here!! 😆 😆

        • Craig Mc

          5 March 2012 at 16:36

          @RedDevilEddy: Rampage are you kiddin me – if you want to know rampage I can bring it big time – but then Its a long trip to Norway to kick your butt – but then all those gorgeous blonde girls in your town you kept telling Grog and I about – might be worth the trip to view the girlie scenery. Don’t tell the missus I said that though Eddi 😉 😉 😀

        • Stephen

          5 March 2012 at 16:40

          @RedDevilEddy: 😆 😆

  11. Craig Mc

    5 March 2012 at 16:11

    Hey Rimmers mate – how about a list for top MOANERS – there are quite a few of them dissing mi man Nani at the moment – so get them on the moaner list. But then as some of the lads are saying – “fook me Craig – you would be top of that fookin list every week – especially post game.” Well what a cheek eh – I’m not that bad surely – err yes right. If you do have a top moaner and I am top of the list will I get a trophy and a bottle of the best champagne Rimmers 😀 .

    • Ian

      5 March 2012 at 19:28

      Haha this is a must! Working on it 🙂

      • Craig Mc

        5 March 2012 at 21:55

        @Ian: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Rimmers don’t work on it, you know all the lads on this blog would vote every one of my posts as a moan just for the devilment of it. 🙄 You all got a few months break from me now, because I have work stacked up all with deadlines. Won’t turn down anything in these days of recession in case the work goes elsewhere. It will all be worth it in the end – even tho I will be working my butt off!

  12. ash is the man

    5 March 2012 at 20:52

    Craig I wouldnt dream of pissing you off but I just dont see nani as you do. I believe he has all the potential and quality to be world class. But he just doesnt have the mentality. He is far to carless with the ball, tries way to many tricks and doesnt use his brain enough and he is very likey to go hiding when we are in trouble.

    As for young I dont beleive he is world class either- he has pace and a great shot and aslo a good knack for popping up with goals. But I think he has a stronger mentality than nani and doesnt piss about on the ball either.

    • Craig Mc

      5 March 2012 at 21:34

      @ash is the man: Okay Ash – no problem mate 😆

      • ash is the man

        5 March 2012 at 22:00

        @Craig Mc: seriously your not going to say a word in reply?

        • RedDevilEddy

          5 March 2012 at 22:03

          @ash is the man: 😆 😆 😆 😆

        • ash is the man

          5 March 2012 at 22:12

          @RedDevilEddy: I think ye lads are pulling the piss out of me?????

        • RedDevilEddy

          5 March 2012 at 23:00

          @ash is the man: Nah mate I love you, at least I like you but a little bit more because of your name. Good lad sticking up for Ashley, too few of them here.

  13. RedDevilEddy

    5 March 2012 at 21:56


    In true Manchester United spirit, I made him cry like the little bitch he was. ‘Ave iiiittt!!! :mrgreen:

    • AndyCR7

      6 March 2012 at 07:00

      @RedDevilEddy: I already won the league title in div 1 :mrgreen:

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