1. Another game at Old Trafford, another game that we were hanging on, but we got the win and restored our seven point lead. After Spurs scored that late equaliser in our last league game you wouldn’t have imagined we would have been straight back in to this position, so there are no complaints from me. Southampton have picked up draws against Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal in the past few weeks and gave us a real game yesterday, so I’ll happily take the three points after watching them dominate the play in the second half, particularly in the last ten minutes. “In my experience of the title race, there is always a game when you were lucky and I think this is the one,” Ferguson said after the game. I think he’s being a tad generous claiming that last night was our only lucky result this season, but I couldn’t care less. We can be lucky every week if it means winning the league.
2. After Arsenal were branded a one man team last season after Robin van Persie dragged them through to achieving one of those precious Champions League spots, there has been some talk of United deserving the same title this season. Even if you ignore the fact that Van Persie scored a higher proportion of Arsenal’s goals than he has ours, it’s disrespectful to our other strikers, let alone the rest of the team, to call us a one man team. Javier Hernandez’s goals have won us five games this season, and Rooney has scored 7 goals in his last 8 games for us now. This season he scored two in our 4-2 win over Stoke, two goals in our 4-3 win over Reading and two goals in our 3-2 win against City, amongst others, and now both goals in our 2-1 win over Southampton. For a player who has struggled for goalscoring form and has been hampered by poor fitness at the start of the season and an injury in the past month, that’s not too shabby. He now features in the top ten scorers this season and has started finding the back of the net at just the right time. More of the same please.
3. Shinji Kagawa can take a lot of the credit for Rooney’s first goal, playing a lovely weighted ball over the Southampton defence to make it easy for Rooney to score. Moments later he could have scored a goal for himself after a great cross in by Phil Jones, but was denied by the woodwork. Jones played his part in the second goal too, winning a freekick for Van Persie to deliver to the back post. Evra grabbed his sixth assist of the season, setting Rooney up for a tap in. After a lovely ball forward from Van Persie, Rooney should have grabbed his hattrick, but a heavy touch made it easy for Boruc.
4. As has become a familiar sight at Old Trafford, we conceded early on, after mistakes from our midfielders. Anderson was the first at fault, giving the ball unnecessarily in his own half. The ball then fell to Michael Carrick, who was under pressure, but his dealing with the situation was so nonchalant. He casually tapped it back in the direction of David de Gea but ended up providing a great assist for Rodriguez. Everyone seems to enjoy giving De Gea stick but he was beaten by a lovely touch by the Southampton player, with our goalie only able to use his feet thanks to the pass back from Carrick. “I just didn’t get enough on it,” Carrick said after the game. “Totally my fault, I take the blame for it and hold my hands up.” Carrick went on to do better as the game went on but losing the ball and inaccurate passing was the theme for Anderson’s game. It was no surprise to see him come off with over 20 minutes to go, although Cleverley will feel a bit miffed to miss out again.
5. Still, Phil Jones had done well in midfield against Spurs so it was fair enough that he was given another go in preference to bringing on Tom. He spoke earlier this week about preferring to play as a central defender and you do worry what impact shifting him about will have. John O’Shea was once an incredibly promising player but never really fulfilled that potential after never owning just one position. Jones is too good to become a utility player but for now, he will have to be content with getting a game wherever the manager chooses. With the likes of Rafael, Rio and Cleverley all on the bench today, Jones should be happy with getting 90 minutes.
6. Van Persie had a quiet game by his standards although saw a goal wrongly ruled out for offside, which would have seen him become the first United player since Ronaldo to score in six league games in a row. This came moments after Boruc made a brilliant save to keep his header out, so he will feel disappointed not to have a goal to his name.
7. So, we’re seven points clear with fourteen games to go. Had 2011-2012 never happened, I’d say our name was on the trophy now. United didn’t blow leads like this at this stage of the season. You’d like to say the fact we cocked up so badly last season would mean it certainly wouldn’t happen again this year, but I’m going to remain cautious for now. We’re in a fantastic position though and even though you rarely get to be relaxed during a United game or thoroughly enjoy it, I’d take performances like last night every week if it means winning our trophy back.
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