Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Review on Manchester United performance V/S Liverpool, 2-1, 22 March, 2015"

"I can't stand Liverpool, I can't stand the people, I can't stand anything to do with them." Gary Neville (Former Manchester United player).

Woo Hoo! It is Manchester United versus Liverpool, the biggest rivalry in English competition!
United Starting XI: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Blind, Carrick, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini, Young, Rooney. United subs: Valdes, Rafael, Rojo, Di Maria, Januzaj, A Pereira, Falcao.

Liverpool Starting XI: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Allen, Henderson (C ), Lallana, Moreno, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge. Liverpool subs: Jones, Johnson, Toure, Gerrard, Leiva, Lambert, Balotelli.

My review on the Manchester United team:

Confidence display from the United players with an intent to attack was the highlights from the first half play. Fellaini, again, was the focal point of attack from United leading to the Mata’s goal. His ability to win ball and hold on is his asset. Liverpool couple of times were threatening with their counter attacks but it was United first half. The win against Tottenham last week has laid the foundation for Manchester United to finish off the season in a high note. The goal in the 14th minute was the outcome of good telepathy between Herrera and Mata. What an assist from Herrera, and Mata guiding the ball to the very corner of the net? United leads 1-0 till the end of first half.

Ashley Young was quiet for most of match but some good interception in the defense shows he still contributes in the match. He was rightly substituted in the second half by Di Maria. But the curious case of Angel Di Maria will be delight for the entire journalist reporting for the match with his half hearted performance in the second half. Anyway the assist leading to Mata second goal in the 59th minutes was a class. But credit goes to Mata for his acrobatic left footed goal to make the score 2-0 for United. I'm pretty sure the goal will be top contender for the goal of the season.

Herrera was really good till the first half but the steam reduced a bit in the second half. And as Liverpool has nothing lose in the match with Gerrard already red carded for stamping on him in the 46th minutes; I thought he and Carrick were under pressure for most of the second half with the Liverpool players pressing high better than they were in first half with 11 players. Maybe, the saying is true, wounded tiger are more dangerous. He was taken off in the 81th minutes for Falcao, and he needed the rest.

Rooney did not contribute much as expected and was quiet awful with some of his passes. There was no communication between him and Di Maria when they both have the opportunity to finish the match. Missing the penalty in the final minutes of the injury time summed up his performance. I thought he could have given the chance to score from the spot to Mata who was on a hat-trick but I don't know why he didn't offer the spot to Mata. I hope he gets better in the upcoming matches because the spot for 2nd and 3rd in the table is wide open with the win for United today.

Fellaini deserved a standing ovation from the travelling fans as well as those watching from home. His offense and defense has a tremendous impact in the game. In the second half, when Liverpool got their first corner of the match and a couple of corners later on, he was always there to clear the ball from the danger area. It is nice see him contributing a lot in the match like this. For me, he is not far behind Mata for the man of the match trophy. We really need him to show his consistency for the upcoming difficult matches.

The defense duo of Jones and Smalling was better in the first half but it can still improve with much needed confidence in passing and control. But in the second half, it shows the lack of experience even though Liverpool was already down to 10 men. Unfortunately, Sturridge took advantage and scored in the 69th minutes to make the score line 2-1. They need a lot of improvement with the important matches coming up. But also, the good news for United is Marcos Rojo will be available for the next match after making a cameo in the end of the final injury time. De Gea, as usual was effective with his goal kicks and distribution. He doesn't have much to do with saving in this match except he was caught out for the Sturridge goal. Otherwise, always calm and composed in the match. That’s what we need as a United goalkeeper.

Mata is the standout player from the match for Manchester United. Efficient with the passes and clinical with his two goals summed up his performance in the match. Deserved a hat trick if only Rooney had offer the spot-kick won in the injury time by Blind after the 90th minutes. Mata exploited Moreno very well for his poor display and ultimately scoring the two goals for United. But the second goal was a absolute beauty and his confidence is really high at this moment which should benefit United for the remaining matches. Valencia was good by offering support to Mata in attack but I expect him to be more offensive from the width area otherwise Rafael can do the same job as him. With his pace, he could have made more impact in the match if he has few crosses with his counterpart Moreno clearly not at his best. Whereas his opposite partner Blind offer a lot from the width play when Young couldn't make enough crosses.

Tactical wise, Van Gaal’s philosophy of playing his style of football is starting to pay off. The formation of 4-2-3-1 is comfortable for the players to enjoy their natural game. It just need a little bit of more efforts from the players to challenge for the title next season or may be even this season if Chelsea loses 2-3 matches… :) For the Manchester United display, I will give 3 out of 5 stars. For Gerrard, it is still zero EPL and a sad ending to his Liverpool matches against Manchester United, their biggest rivalry... :)

The next upcoming match for Manchester United is on 4th April 2015 (Saturday) at 7:30 PM (IST) in Old Trafford, Manchester.

Thank you. 

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