Manchester United maintained a 7 point gap between them and the noisy neighbours Manchester City by defeating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The pitch had to go through a pre-match inspection after enduring the torrential rains, which made the ground more muddy than grassy (have a look at Smalling in the above picture!). Man Utd, as a result, had a tough time maintaining their pace in the game.
Sir Alex Ferguson made 5 changes to his side with bringing in Danny Welbeck and a surprise in the form of Shinji Kagawa who was out since October with a kee injury. The Red Devils took the game to the baggies’ doorstep right from the starting whistle. The growing pressure finally yielded results in the 9th minute when a cross (or a shot, as he perceives it) was deflected by Gareth McAuley into his own net. Man Utd grew stronger with every attack as they inched closer to a second goal every time they went on the front foot. Shinji Kagawa, who was dearly missed for two months, showed just how brilliant he can be on the ball when he let loose Antonio Valencia on West Brom’s back four with a peach of a pass. Valencia cut the ball back into the path of arriving Ashley Young who looked certain to score, if it wasnt for a one hand save by the former Man Utd man, Ben Foster (he wouldnt have been sold in the first place if he had shown his abilities at Old Trafford!). Ben Foster, on whom West Brom splashed their whole summer transfer budget proved his worth by deflecting Michael Carrick’s goal bound effort from a corner.
Other than the attacking skills shown by Man Utd throughout the match, their defence also deserved appreciation this time. They managed to earn the 2nd clean sheet in the league this season (shocking!). The Baggies, who have been exceptionally brilliant this season have managed to take points off all the top teams, even beating most of them. Their team spirit grew by the end of the first half and they grew stronger every time they attacked. But it was United’s day as the back four held their nerve and defended with everything they had, literally! The presence of Vidic and Evans at the back, standing firm like a wall proved, too much for Shane Long and Co to deal with.
Sir Alex Ferguson, just to make sure his side got 3 points, intoduced his hitman Robin van Persie in the 64th minute replacing Kagawa. Like always, van Persie showed why he was worth every penny splashed on him. Keeping the possession in difficult situations, making brilliant runs, almost setting up Welbeck for a second were only the few things he contributed in. Man Utd almost got their assuring second goal through Danny Welbeck’s effort in the 89th minute, only to be saved by Ben Foster, yet again! But the final touch of perfection had to come from the master. None other than Robin van Persie! His 90th minute curling shot from the edge of the penalty box landed at the back of the net. Not even Ben Foster on his best day could do anything about it! 😀
Someone who deserves a special appreciation is Michael Carrick. Each attack that United started seemed to initiate with or go through him. And when it came to defending, he made sure the ball didnt reach the back four easily. A perfect midfielder, putting in his share of effort for the team. He seems to be in top form and will surely play an significant role to help United clinch their 20th league title this season.
All in all, a strong performance by Manchester United against a West Brom side causing upsets all over the league table this season. Strong attack, stronger defence, moments of brilliance by players, keeping the noisy neighbours in their rightful place, BELOW Manchester United! In short, just another day at Old Trafford for the Red Devils. 🙂
GLORY GLORY MAN UTD! 😀