United are now 8th in the table which might get worse for the Red Devils after the weekend is over. One could say the result was fair given Southampton’s current form (they stand 4th in the table), but there are no excuses for the current Barclays Premier League Champions to not win on their home turf.
David Moyes put out a changed Man Utd with Phil Jones and Johnny Evans at the heart of the defence and Patrice Evra and Rafael da Silva taking up the full back roles. Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick formed the midfield with Nani and Adnan Januzaj on the flanks. The strike force up front was Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. David De Gea stood between the posts.
Southampton started the game flamboyantly, pegging United back. Their ‘in your face’ defensive tactics, acute passing and quick pace showed they had no intentions of sitting back and hoping to get something out of the game in the end, The saints were firing on all cylinders and running on full steam. But as it almost always happens, the steam ran out and United started to take control of the game.
Van Persie showed his genius when he improvised on the 10th minute and tried to volley the ball over the Saints golakeeper from an acute angle. Just 2 minutes later, van Persie was denied when he drove a low shot off Nani’s cross. At the other end, Southampton refused to go away and made the backline nervous every now and then. Rooney, who had a game to forget, lost the ball which presented a brilliant chance for striker Dani Osvaldo. The Saints should have been ahead but Osvaldo only managed to fluff the ball into De Gea’s safe hands.
United, unlike Southampton, did not make a mistake and took the lead through van Persie on the 26th minute. Januzaj, who has been impressing everyone with his recent performances, drove a low cross for Wayne Rooney who failed to make a decent contact with the ball, but van Persie was at the right place at the right time to turn the ball into the far corner of the net. Rooney almost gave United fans another reason to cheer just 2 minutes later but his shot bounced off the cross bar. The best chance for Southampton came from a distant, but accurate, shot from defender Lovren which did not bother De Gea much.
The second half started much like the first half, with Southampton on the front foot. Evans had to make a valiant effort to deflect a cross out and keep the Saints captain Adam Lalana from causing problems for United. United probably had their best chance to give themselves some breathing space right after the hour mark when van Persie’s header struck the cross bar from a corner. The deflected ball was put back into the mix by Evans to find Nani whose was denied by some fine goalkeeping by Artur Boruc. The Belgian was up for the challenge the very next minute and kept out compatriot Januzaj’s vicious drive from outside the box. Much of United’s attempts throughout the game were denied by the immaculate offside trap of Southampton’s defensive line. Rooney and van Persie fed lucrative balls to each other, time and again, but only to be caught offside.
As time went by, the crowd grew anxious and the Saints, more dangerous. Moyes brought brought in Ryan Giggs for Nani to use his experience and see his side over the line with all the points, But he also brought on Danny Welbeck in place of Fellaini, which baffled everyone. His continued faith in prodigal striker has effectively landed the Red Devils in the situation they are in right now.
Welbeck soon showed why it was, and potentially will always be, a mistake to bring him on when he found himself galloping past the opposition’s defenders. He could’ve been the hero if only he had flicked the ball into oncoming Rooney’s pass who would definitely have scored, given the acres of space he had and only the keeper to beat. But no. Welbeck waited long enough for an opponent to come and rid him of the ball. Frustration grew with anxiety to see United be so wasteful. This was not to go unpunished as Southampton finally equalized in the 89th minute from a corner.
United tried piling on some pressure in the dying minutes to conjure up another chance but Welbeck was there again to make sure nothing could happen. He took a touch too many and cheaply lost the ball right when Southampton was scrambling to get the ball away. The game ended with Southampton sharing the spoils with United, deservingly enough.
David Moyes cut a frustrated figure as United have only managed to get 11 points from a possible 24. One can say its too early to start ringing the alarm bells but its been more than a decade since United have gone below the 6th position in the table. But Moyes needs to find his strongest 11 soon or the situation will go from bad to worse in no time. If things stay the way they are, the season will be a success for United if they manage to qualify for the Champions League next season. A truly sad thing to say about the current English champions. Regardless, it is the duty of the fans to stand by their team through thick an thin and ride out the storm!
Glory Glory Man Utd!!