1. I was fuming when I heard the line-up. I’ve tried to limit knee jerk reactions to the team news given the amount of times Sir Alex Ferguson has made me look a knob head for doing so but I couldn’t hold back today. I was furious. Hearing that Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher were now also injured allowed it to make more sense but I couldn’t understand having Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes on the bench when we were playing a midfield like that. At this rate, we were going out of the FA Cup and who was to say our players would then show up against Marseille. Fabio, who hardly ever plays, and when he does, has been put on the left wing maybe once. John O’Shea, who has been used mostly at right back was the better half of the central midfield alongside Darron Gibson. Then Rafael, who again, is not a winger. This was obviously before I knew that Wayne Rooney was going to be sitting back with the midfield. Still, to play that 4 against a passing team seemed to be like total suicide.
2. The Twins are good are getting forward from their full-back positions and today we saw their value as wingers. The two combined 15 minutes in when Fabio put it on a plate for Rafael to score, but his header was high. It was a taster of what was to come though. Fabio raced forward then played through a great ball to his brother with the outside of his boot. Rafael then passed it back to Fabio outside the box, who tapped it to Rooney, who played in a great ball to Chicharito. A fantastically placed header from the Mexican lead to a great save from Almunia, before Fabio tapped in the rebound. I love those twins.
3. Whilst those two lads were definitely a highlight, there are several positives to focus on today, most important of those, Antonio Valencia’s return. Wow. I was expecting when he did come back, whenever that might have been, it would take him a while to settle, and that would be fair enough. It was like he had never been away. The second goal was all about him. There were just 17 seconds between Van der Sar rolling the ball out to him and Rooney making it 2-0. We’ve got a winger again! Nani has done a great job down that flank this season and the idea of him and Valencia being available for our last few games should fill us all with massive hope. It was great to see him out there again.
4. Edwin Van der Sar was named Man of the Match. How can a player good enough to be named MOTM, when the best two teams in the country play, be retiring? The fans did our bit in trying to get him to change his mind though. “One more year” and “Fergie, sign him up!” as well as singing his name on repeat for large chunks of the second half. He applauded the Stretford End in the midst of this, which just increased the volume. There are suggestions that Fergie is trying to convince him to stay around. It’s nice to see the fans doing their bit too.
5. It’s great to have Vida back, who serves as a bring wall for any opposition team trying to cross the ball in, but then Chris Smalling was his match today. Great young player doing his bit to rob Chicharito of the best signing of last summer title. So composed and confident for a lad so young.
6. Whilst not wanting to spoil such a high-spirited reaction, the Arsenal fans singing over the Manchester United Foundation choir at half-time has to get a mention. This is a fucking charity and whether they’re United based or otherwise, you’ve got to show more respect than that. For a fanbase that seems to believe they ooze class, they exposed themselves for what they really are.
7. The Wayne Rooney we know and loved was great. His first touch reappeared, his passing was good and he looked up for it. The chance to make it 2-0 looked to have gone but Rooney managed to get his head to it to seal the result. With goals against Chelsea, City and now Arsenal, you have to applaud him for showing up in these games. If the press weren’t still aboard their anti-Rooney campaign, they would have praised his restraint at Anfield last week, with Scholes and Rafael squaring up to the vermin after Carragher ripped a hole in Nani’s leg. Rooney calmly walked around, not wanting to get involved, showing signs of supposed “maturity.” Fuck that, I want a player with fire in his belly. He looked more like Rooney of old today than we’ve probably seen all season, working hard going forward as well as in defence.
8. We showed a great fighting spirit and desire today, something which had missing at Anfield and the second half at Stamford Bridge. It was great to see. We had a strong defence which meant the rest of the team had the opportunity to go out there and prove themselves. They did. I’d hoped Arsenal would be ready to bottle it, facing the prospect of 3 cup exits in less than a fortnight, but when I saw that team I knew they’d be up for it. They all were, routinely going around hugging and kissing each other ahead of kick-off, patting each other on the bum. Soft southern fairies. Our lads save their hugs for celebrating goals. Fergie instilled that fight in them, he’s harboured the siege mentality well, and now is the time to unleash that as we chase the double (being realistic). Come on reds.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.