1. After dropping points against Wigan and seeing City batter Norwich 6-1, it was so important we went out and got a result against Villa. A scrappy 1-0 would have done but it was pleasing to see us go out and batter Villa to swing the momentum in our favour again. The second half performance was one of the best we’ve seen from United in a while. I’m not sure whether that can be entirely attributed to us or the fact our opposition were so poor but it was great to see nevertheless.
2. The talking point of the game wasn’t the fact we won 4-0 though but the way in which the opening goal was scored. A good run from Ashley Young in the box resulted in a penalty. After diving last week it was obvious any penalty earned by Young would be viewed sceptically but I’m fairly taken aback by the fuss it has caused. He went down theatrically and he drew in the foul but that doesn’t change the fact it was a penalty, with the defender putting his foot across the player and making no contact on the ball. The worst decision of the game came when the referee opted to ignore Shay Given’s deliberate handball outside the area to deny Danny Welbeck the opportunity to put the ball in to the box with a keeperless net on full view. Can you imagine if De Gea made an error like that? Can you imagine if the referee ignored it in our favour? It was an odd one. It was at least a booking for Given and no advantage was gained for United in allowing play to continue. MOTD2 didn’t even bother to show it in the highlights though and the journos certainly didn’t care about it today.
3. Wayne Rooney, who has been named on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist today, has had a strange season. He went through a phase where he was playing brilliantly but just couldn’t find the back of the net. Now his form is below par generally, with his first touch and decision making just woeful at times, you can’t stop him from scoring. He has obviously been practising his penalties and managed to send Given the wrong way. He struck the ball in an odd way for his second goal, with a deflection leaving Given planted to the spot. Can we complain? I’m not. It’s frustrating to see him play seemingly easy balls straight to the opposition but as long as he’s scoring goals that are winning us games, I’m not too fussed. At this stage of the season, you take whatever you can get, and if Rooney scores the winner off his arse at the Etihad after passing the ball to Tevez all night, I won’t give a shit less.
4. Aside from Rooney’s general play, it’s hard to criticise the performance of any of the lads from Sunday though, with them all putting in a great shift. I love watching Antonio Valencia play. It’s exciting every time he gets the ball. I’m obviously not saying he’s on a level with Cristiano Ronaldo but whenever he gets the ball you’re looking forward to seeing what he can do with it. I’d still have Carrick as our best player this season but Valencia is definitely the player I enjoy watching the most. He’s only 26-years-old too so hopefully we’ve yet to see the best from him.
5. Nani had a nice cameo at the end of the game, putting away his effort nicely, and even giving us a flip to celebrate. It’s been a frustrating season for him but it’s good to have him back as an option as we come to the important part. He is capable of some great things and gives us something different to Young or Valencia. Dimitar Berbatov also made an appearance which was nice to see. After failing to even make the bench recently, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d played for us for the last time. In contrast to Rooney’s carelessness in possession, we saw a 100% pass completion from Berba in the 15 minutes he was on the pitch. He’s a nice option to have.
6. Every game we play now is just another one ticked off. After blowing our eight point lead with a naff performance at Wigan, it was reassuring to see a response. Everton will be a tougher game though but maybe the opposition will be enough to spark Rooney in to life again. Thankfully we’re at home though and we’ve got one hand on the trophy. We don’t want to go to City with just three points advantage over them, particularly when looking at their goal difference, but I have every confidence in us going all the way. Wigan was a blip. We look good for the title but I won’t be getting any “20” banners out just yet.