1. Today’s game against Spurs was described as a “must win” by some. The problem with dropping points against teams you shouldn’t is that when you have more difficult games, like Tottenham away, the pressure is on to win. We drew with Cardiff just a week before Arsenal breezed past them at the same ground. So today became a “must win”. The problem is that Spurs got battered 6-0 last weekend, meaning they were more hungry than they usually would be to get a result against United.
2. Spurs took the lead twice and twice United managed to recover. Depending on whether your glass is half full or empty, it’s either desperately disappointing that we fell behind twice, or encouraging that we had the mental resolve to come back from both goals. We needed that third though and after equalising for the second time I thought we’d be on for it. But the proper fight back never really came and as disappointing as it may be, 2-2 was probably a fair result.
3. Their first goal came when Phil Jones failed to command the edge of the area, following by a desperate challenge from Jonny Evans. The wall jumped over Kyle Walker’s freekick which lead to plenty of criticism. Personally, I think it was fairly harsh. If the wall stayed rooted and Walker cleared the wall and curled the ball in to the top corner, what would people be saying? I suppose the problem really was the lack of preparation. Apparently Walker was always going to rely on the power he can put behind his shot and blast it towards goal, so maybe they should have known better. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though.
4. Their second goal was a fantastic strike from Sandro and De Gea just stood and watched it fly in to the top corner. No keeper could get near that. It was frustrating to see Tom Cleverley give Sandro all the space he wanted to get the shot away though. It was a better performance from Cleverley than we’ve seen recently, with the odd clever ball forward, but he’s still miles away than what we should expect from our midfielders.
5. The game, from our perspective at least, was all about Wayne Rooney. Now only Sergio Aguero has more goals and assists in the league than Rooney, after scoring twice to salvage a point for us today. The first goal came from a good Jones cross, who was making amends for his dilly dallying for the first, which Walker kindly cushioned down in to Rooney’s path. He was never going to miss from there. The second came from the penalty spot and I won’t claim I was overly confident as he stepped up to take it. His penalty taking record is poor for a striker, to the point that he took himself off duty and passed it on to Robin van Persie after missing so many, so it was easy to imagine him missing. Not only did he score, but he thumped it down the centre of the goal, indicating just how confident he is at the moment. Nemanja Vidic and Danny Welbeck both deserve some credit for that goal too though, with our captain making a crunching tackle to win back possession ahead of Welbeck getting in to a great position and managing to take the ball away from the keeper to win the pen.
6. With most players putting in totally underwhelming shifts, most notably Shinji Kagawa, both in his preferred position and out on the left, Antonio Valencia did a good job down the right. He completed more passes than any opposition player, only one player on either side completed more passes in the final third, he created the most chances for United and he successfully beat his man on more occasions than any player on the pitch. He’s still not quite at his best but it’s encouraging to see such improvement this season.
7. Chris Smalling isn’t a right back. I like him a lot, I think he’s got a bright future at the club, but in the centre of defence, not as a full-back. It’s utterly baffling as to why Moyes persists in starting him there and leaving Rafael on the bench. The latter may not be match fit after picking up an injury against Fulham a month ago, but if he’s ready to be a sub, then surely he’s ready for some minutes on the pitch too.
8. There’s no getting away from the fact today’s result was a disappointing one, particularly when you consider that our rivals are picking up the points. We’re still just about keeping up with the pace but we’re long past the point where we can really afford to drop points. Our unbeaten run now stretches 12 games, which is positive to a certain extent, but far too many of those games have been draws. There were large chunks of today’s game where we played good football, passing the ball around nicely, but we need to get the points on the board.
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