Sunday, November 22, 2009

United Hit Toffees For Three

Sunday, November 22, 2009
Man Utd 3-0 Everton

Manchester United brushed Everton aside at Old Trafford as they closed the gap on league leaders Chelsea.

The first forty-five minutes were dominated by United and Darren Fletcher's superb strike was the least the Champions deserved at half-time.

A much improved second-half from Everton failed to produce any rewards as Michael Carrick extended the lead with a place finish from the edge of the area.

Antonio Valencia's deflected strike rounded off the match and despite a resilient display, Everton have a lot of improving to do.

A defensive looking Everton side turned out at Old Trafford as a makeshift centre midfield pairing of John Heitinga and Jack Rodwell showed that the Toffees intended to sit back and soak up pressure.

In the fifteenth minute United took a foothold of the game and started to create consistent chances on goal. Only a perfectly timed last gasp tackle from Leighton Baines stopped Valencia from getting a clear attempt from eight yards out.

Then French left-back Patrice Evra pounced on a loose ball before cutting inside Lucas Neill and sending a low cross to the edge of the penalty area for the waiting Wayne Rooney, however the former Everton man sliced his shot wide of the goal.

Moments later United worked another effort on goal as Michael Owen’s smart footwork helped set up captain Ryan Giggs for an effort on target. However Toffee’s ‘keeper Tim Howard was down quickly to his right to make a comfortable save.

In the 35th minute Darren Fletcher broke the deadlock in style with a fantastic drilled shot into the top corner. Valencia headed Evra’s cross back to the edge of the area where Fletcher met the ball on the half-volley and emphatically struck home.

Michael Owen had a half chance to extend the lead for United shortly before half time when he timed his run perfectly to stay onside and latch on to Wayne Rooney’s skilful flick. However he would have done well to score from the tight angle as Howard quickly rushed out to block his shot.

Great Hit| Fletcher opened the scoring with a wonder goal

David Moyes showed his intention to get something out of the fixture as he changed to 4-4-2 formation for the second half an introduced Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni to the game.

Everton eventually worked a notable chance from an unlikely attacking source as centre-back Sylvain Distin showed exceptional pace to beat United full-back Rafael da Silva to a long ball forward.

The Frenchman turned inside before passing square to Louis Saha who control with his right-foot before snatching a shot with his left but the ball trickled wide without threatening Edwin Van der Sar’s goal.

Next to attack the United goal was another defender in John Heitinga, who lined-up in midfield today. The Dutchman worked a yard of space on the edge of the box before firing a shot at goal that Van der Sar gathered without fuss.

Michael Owen, making only his third Premier League start for United almost doubled the lead as he reacted quickest to a deflected clearance and rounded Howard. However the angle proved too tight and the former Liverpool striker could only scoop the ball onto the top of the net.

Moments later Marouanne Fellaini thought he had equalised when he slotted the ball under Van der Sar but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside and the goal chalked off.

On the hour mark Everton threatened again as Yakubu split the defence with a scything through ball, but Tim Cahill could only get the merest of touches as he stretched to flick the ball over the onrushing van der Sar, who made a good block.

The game opened up and Wayne Rooney came within millimetres of increasing the score as he casually picked up Michael Owen’s pass twenty-five yards from goal, took-one touch and chipped the ball towards goal. Tim Howard could only watch as the ball flicked the top of the woodwork before going out of play.

Owen had his third and best chance of the game in the 67th minute when he again timed his run well but lacked a clinical finish in front of goal.

The No. 7 controlled the ball before trying to guide the ball into the far corner but he could only win a corner as a sliding Everton defender made the block.

The resulting corner fell to Rooney whose shot come pass found Giggs at the corner flag and allowed the Welshman to find the arriving Michael Carrick on the edge of the box. The former Tottenham man effortlessly placed the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot to seemingly put the game beyond Everton.

Paul Scholes made an instant impact after his arrival off the bench, the veteran Manchester United midfielder had been on the pitch for a matter of minutes before picking up the ball 35 yards from goal and striding forward purposefully.

The former England international eventually released the ball to Antonio Valencia who saw his shot deflect into the bottom corner of the goal to claim United’s third of the game.

The game remained open as first Yakubu’s long range effort and then Tim Cahill’s close range chance proved Everton were still attempting to get back in the game but United looked comfortable and also continued to create chances.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Red Down But Not Out

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Reds may be down after harshly losing out at Stamford Bridge, but Sir Alex insists his side are by no means out of the title race despite falling five points behind leaders Chelsea.

John Terry's controversial winner secured all three points for Carlo Ancelotti's men despite finding themselves second best for most of the 90 minutes in South London.

The result is certainly a blow to United's hopes of securing a fourth Championship crown in a row, but Sir Alex says his side have the qualities to bounce back from adversity.

"That was Manchester United we saw today," declared the boss in an interview with MUTV.

"We've got a great squad and today was a reminder that we're a very good team.

"We've been criticised recently by a lot of people, but that won't deter us.

"We've got a cause now, a great cause - we want to win this league. And the lead isn't unassailable, that's for sure."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

United Strike Down Rovers

Sunday, November 1, 2009
Man Utd 2-0 Blackburn Rovers

Manchester United bounced back from last weekend’s defeat against Liverpool with a comfortable win over Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford. After a goalless first half Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring before Wayne Rooney made the game safe to send the champions back into second spot.

The champions welcomed Sam Allardyce’s men but had to make do without the injured quartet of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher and with Paul Scholes left on the bench.

Yet the champions endured a frustrating first half against a disciplined Rovers side missing Jason Roberts with swine ‘flu but able to recall Christopher Samba and David Dunn who had both recovered from the virus.

Indeed it took over half an hour before Sir Alex Ferguson’s men really began to threaten but a combination of poor finishing and disciplined defending protected the visitors’ goal.

Dimitar Berbatov was the man handed two chances within a minute, the Bulgarian denied from five yards by a superb block by Gael Givet before heading a cross by Antonio Valencia into the ground and allowing Paul Robinson to tip the bouncing ball over the bar.

Minutes later and Wayne Rooney made it a hat-trick of chances for his partner teeing him up to hit a fierce, low drive which a diving Robinson did well to divert around the post for a corner.

The champions were dominating and five minutes before the break they did have the ball in the back of the net. A sweeping move saw Nani release Rooney down the left and his cross was tapped home by Berbatov only for the Bulgarian to be denied by the offside flag.

The chances continued to come, Rooney crowded out in the box before Berbatov blasted wide after a lovely pass by the England international and Rovers reached the interval, relieved to still be on level terms.

An impatient home crowd urged their side forward after the break and it took less than ten minutes for the deadlock to finally be broken and it was little surprise that it was that man Berbatov who supplied the finish.

Valencia instigated the move, finding John O’Shea whose cross found Patrice Evra. The Frenchman tried a shot from range which instead fell to Berbatov who controlled the ball before turning and firing a superb strike low and into the bottom corner.

On-target – Berbatov opens the scoring

With the lead established Ferguson opted to changes things handing Gabriel Obertan a first taste of life in the Premier League at the expense of the disappointing Nani.

Within seconds of his arrival the youngster caught glimpse of goal after being sent clear down the left flank yet he was, perhaps surprisingly, caught by Ryan Nelson and could only manage a weak shot which was easily claimed by Robinson.

However, with 10 minutes to go Obertan was handed a glorious chance to open his Old Trafford account. Some terrific build up play involving Rooney and Valencia saw the ball fall to the new recruit unmarked at the far post but somehow he conspired to scuff his shot wide with the goal gaping.

It could have been a costly miss but with Rovers showing a distinct lack of ambition, even against an unfamiliar central defensive pairing of Wes Brown and Jonny Evans, it was not to be and with minutes left on the clock Rooney made the game safe.

A great cross from the left by Obertan reached Anderson who found the England international and with his first touch he swept it past Robinson and into the far corner to seal all three points.

There was still time for more chances, Rovers had a goal chalked off controversially for offside before substitute Michael Owen went agonisingly close, but ultimately it was United's day and the perfect response to last weekend’s Anfield defeat.