1. After making a better start to the season than Sir Alex Ferguson has ever managed with Manchester United, we dropped our first points on Saturday evening. Based on the performance, we can have no complaints with the results. We didn’t create enough opportunities to score and didn’t deal with the Freak well enough for their goal. Stoke have beaten Liverpool and drawn with Chelsea already this season, so it’s not a dreadful result, however frustrating it may be to drop points.
2. It was frustrating to see United fail to take our game to Stoke, as we have done in all our previous games this season. We let them have their own way and we paid the price for it. All over the pitch, we just weren’t as sharp or confident as we had been previously and that is annoying. When you’re missing the creativity of Rooney and the attacking threat of Chicharito, it’s not too surprising though I suppose.
3. The performance deserved a draw but had the officials not been incompetent, we could have won. Three minutes in to the game, Chicharito burst through one on one with the keeper, only for Jonathan Woodgate to knock him over, getting nothing on the ball. At the final whistle, the manager said it was “too early” in the game for the ref to award a penalty. I’m glad he hasn’t gone crying to refs’ chief Mike Riley though, as Kenny Dalglish and Andre Villa-Boas did as soon as decisions went against them. Three minutes after making this decision, referee Walton opted just to book Glenn Whelan when his late tackle sent Patrice Evra flying through the air and getting nothing on the ball.
4. Nani, who is again starting the season well, did very well to put us 1-0 up. In a move started by him, with a one-two with Darren Fletcher along the way, he struck the ball perfectly just inside the post. Nani had the chance to make it 2-0 after Ashley Young, in typical hard working fashion, chased down the goalie and forced an error. Nani chipped the ball over the open goal after it came to him too quickly. He also set Giggsy up for what should have been the winner in the dying moments, playing a perfect ball to the back post, which Ryan smashed wide. In six games, Nani has now scored three and assisted three. Antonio Valencia will be pleased to see the right back position vacated through injury as he would struggle to force Nani or Ashley Young, who has more assists than any player in the league this season, out of the team at the moment.
5. Phil Jones, who had some fans singing Giggs’ song to him following a run which tore apart Stoke’s defence, was at fault for the goal. Freak was his man and he had no idea where he was when he got his head on the end of the cross. Fortunately, I absolutely adore the lad and he had a good game other than the error.
6. Oh, the midfield. It makes me ache. We started the season so nicely with Tom Cleverley and Ando in the centre of the park but no other midfield pairing seems to get it right. Fletch and Anderson weren’t awful but they weren’t good. Surely now is the time to try Jones out in this position. What have we got to lose?
7. Saving a penalty against Arsenal and point blank rage stops against Chelsea, but David de Gea probably had his best game for United yet, pulling off three excellent reactionary saves. Whilst still a tad shaky with crosses in to the box, he got his hands to efforts plenty of keepers wouldn’t. If he’s this good at 20, I can’t wait to see the player he will develop in to.