1. The only dangerous attacking outlet we had this evening was Nani. Whilst his decision making was circa 2008-2009 at times, his ability always impresses me. He can beat his man with ease and if he had studs in that would stop him slipping all the time, he’d be even more effective. He got the better of Heinze more often than not and conceded so many freekicks for getting fouled. Talk about officials being intimidated by the crowd, tinfoil and all.
2. Chris Smalling put in another accomplished performance and meant we didn’t have to miss Rio Ferdinand. Jonny Evans was impressive last season and has fallen short of the mark this year, so I’m trying not to get too excited, but Smalling looks to be the real deal. He’s composed on the ball and put in some important blocks.
3. I’ll have to skim over this point given the frequency it has to be spoken about this season. Our midfield were by-passed constantly. It seems as though Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Darron Gibson take it in turns to be the most ineffectual player on the park. Things looked better when Paul Scholes was introduced late on but with Anderson out for a few weeks and important games on the horizon, the midfield is a big worry.
4. Wayne Rooney struggled to get involved from the left and the result of this, coupled with the practically non-existent midfield, was Dimitar Berbatov couldn’t get in to the game. Neither looked like scoring today and their best work probably came from coming deeper to get the ball for themselves. Things were a tad better when Fletch moved to the right and Rooney went up front, but there wasn’t enough time for it to make a big difference.
5. Patrice Evra got booed and whistled whenever he went near the ball. I was under the impression the French people were on Evra’s side against Domenech/FFA, but apparently not. He dealt with it well enough but I imagine it’s not very nice for him. Probably not what he needed amidst his substandard season after getting his confidence knocked after World Cup events.
6. Getting an away goal is the ideal result in Europe but stopping the opposition from scoring bodes well for the home leg. Chelsea lost there but beat them at Stamford Bridge in the group stages, so you’d like to think things will go smoothly. It’s never a forgone conclusion but if we can keep them out at their place, you’d like to think we’ll be alright at Old Trafford. Obviously there’s the danger of them getting away goals which puts pressure on us but we’re in a good enough position to progress.