1. When you go behind twice in a game you can’t be too disappointed when you leave with a draw. United weren’t good enough to take all three points and as frustrating as that may be we should be content enough with taking something out of the game. City drew 0-0 there and Chelsea lost 3-1 so we can’t be too downbeat about it. It’s just a shame that United can’t grab games by the scruff of the neck any more.
2. Shinji Kagawa showed us what we have to look forward to next season in setting up both goals in two different but equally brilliant ways. The first saw a little shimmy leave the defender for dead to put it on a plate for Antonio Valencia to make it 1-1 and the second was an excellent goal-bound effort which saw a deflection take it off the woodwork and straight in to the path of Robin van Persie to make it 2-2. He also completed 91% of his passes and only two players (non-defenders) completed more than him, despite him being taken off with over ten minutes left to play. It seemed an odd time to replace him and when chasing a win you would think Phil Jones, who was fairly anonymous, might have been a more obvious choice. Still, that would have left us open to danger on the counter but it seemed unfair to hook Kagawa just a minute after creating our second goal.
3. Whilst still a shadow of his former self, Antonio Valencia looked much brighter yesterday. Not only was he attempting to cross the ball, something that seems to happen so rarely with his apparent brain freeze, but he was delivering good balls in to the box too. If not for the top goalkeeping of Jääskeläinen he could have had an assist to his name. Before last night he had won every league game he had scored in (for Wigan as well), more than any other player in Premier League history (according to Opta) but records are there to be broken and sadly last night was the night. He couldn’t miss after getting in a good position to receive Kagawa’s cross and returned to his usual stern-faced celebration. Too early to say he’s back just yet but at least he looked more like a winger last night.
4. After putting away the penalty on Sunday the manager was obviously hoping that the resulting confidence may help Van Persie go on another goalscoring run. It wasn’t just a simple tap in for him though, with a defender sliding in and the goal at a tight angle. He lifted the ball well and put himself within one goal of being the country’s top scorer. No hug for Ferguson this time though, after all the stick he’s got from his team mates.
5. Michael Carrick completed over 100 passes for United last night with an accuracy of 90% which again illustrates what an important player he is for us. It feels as though every week he gets a mention for his contribution but it’s incredible to see the consistency he has enjoyed this season. Carrick said in an interview this week that it’s down to experience and still only at 31-years-old, with next to no real injury past to speak of, we might have his best years to come.
6. David de Gea came through another physical test, playing his second tough team in a matter of days, and was particularly impressive just ahead of being flattened by Andy Carroll. A year ago he wouldn’t have got near that cross, with players all around him, but he made sure he got a fist to it at the expense of being clattered. How Carroll escaped without punishment is beyond me, but then he got away with elbows, knees and kicks all game and was very lucky to still be on the field at the final whistle. His yellow card came for the tamest challenge of them all in a tussle with De Gea, which seemingly lead to our goalie being booed all game by the bubble blowing fairies. It’s great to see the progress he is making though. Adding bravery to his agility means he will be adding on the points for us come the end of the season.
7. Whilst Ryan Giggs was poor after coming on, completeling a lowly 57% of his passes, he almost played the one ball that mattered when finding Chicharito in the box. The move had goal written all over it but somehow Carroll got a toe to it, leaving our Mexican frustrated.
8. There was real pace and urgency about our games for the last ten minutes but this attitude should be drilled in from the start, not just when they start getting desperate at the end. We have a longer rest until our next game and could win the league on Monday night if Spurs, who are in desperate need of the points following Chelsea’s win over Fulham, beat City. Let’s remember that the blues have to win their game in hand just to get within ten points of us, so there really is no need for panic stations. It’s understandable that we’ll be more nervous after the team threw away the league last season, but this is a healthy lead. Still, the sooner they can put us out of our misery and win the bloody thing the better!
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