Posts Tagged ‘ Phil Jones ’

10 Conclusions: Manchester United vs Chelsea

-by M

– What a game it was. It was not a technically superior game with Ramires’ and Torres’ miss (more on those later) as well as Rooney’s fluffed up penalty. But this game had everything a neutral could ask for. Controversial goals, Nani’s wonder strike from range,  feisty tackles, penalties. The only thing missing was probably a red card but that would have marred the game wouldn’t it?

– Chris Smalling was definitely offside. But Chelsea should have done so much better defensively. Young’s ball was superb and even if Smalling was not there to head it in, he had Jonny Evans behind him to tap it home for United’s opening goal.

– How good was Fletcher on his first Premier League in months? His facial hair and dynamism in midfield had D squealing like a little girl (Fletcher is his favourite United player) and it is always nice to see a player come back and perform well after a couple of months out. He was tidy in midfield, keeping the United engine ticking. And thankfully, he did. Anderson had a mediocre game by his recent performances and would be happy that it was Fletcher and not Carrick partnering him in midfield.

– How did Ramires not equalize for Chelsea only he would know. While some questioned Torres’ confidence in not taking the shot when he could, I felt he did the right thing by squaring the ball to Ramires who really should have buried it. No ifs or buts. De Gea did well to scramble across but really, Chelsea should have been on level terms.

– Take a bow, Nani. That was a goal worthy of winning any game. A player not short on confidence, he was almost untouchable after that wonder goal. As D said, “That is how you hit a ball.”

– I feel a little sorry for Torres. After his goal, you could tell his confidence was growing. He was an absolute nuisance to the United backline and his finish was sublime, dinking the ball over De Gea. But all that will be forgotten with THAT miss. He did everything right but I’m sorry, he should have finished it. I could have put it in the back of the net. Its cruel for him especially after scoring a good goal and you could tell he was regaining his confidence. That miss will crush anybody, let alone a player desperately short on confidence and luck.

– 12 months ago, Rooney would have been absolutely livid with himself if he scuffed that penalty ala Terry in Moscow. Yet, the man managed a wry smile and got on with his game thereafter. If Torres is a man short of confidence, Rooney is clearly full of it at the moment. Its almost as if he goes into every game knowing he will score. That is a scary thought for any non-United fan.

– Did anyone else see Evans’ rage Carrick in the second half? Evans passed the ball to Carrick, who had no opponent within 10 yards of him, but proceeds to make a  back pass to De Gea. Evans couldn’t believe it. Neither could I. Its almost as if Carrick doesn’t want the ball at times and that is why he should not be anywhere near the United first XI.

– Despite the result, Chelsea performed well. The only difference was the quality/confidence of the strikers in both teams. Had Chelsea had an in-form Torres or Sturridge, United might not have been victorious. The numbers state it all. Chelsea had 22 shots on goal against United’s 14. De Gea made 7 saves to Cech’s 3.

– Juan Mata is the key to Chelsea’s success this season. The little Spaniard has a similar style to David Silva and clearly, he was pulling the strings for Chelsea last night. Lampard was taken off at half time. Is it the beginning of the end for Fat Frank?

– Phil Jones is an absolute beast. While he was caught ball watching for Torres’ goal, he was once again, outstanding. Imperious in defence and equally brilliant going forward, United’s 3rd goal was a result of his willingness to step forward from defence with the ball. Young and De Gea have been pretty solid so far for United but for me, Jones has surpassed expectations with his performances in a United shirt. I would not be surprised if he won Young Player of the Year if he keeps this up for the remainder of the season.

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Manchester United Tear Arsenal A New One

-by M with help from D

As Howard Webb blew his whistle to signal the end of the game,  there were no wild scenes of celebration by Manchester United players. Despite beating arch-rivals Arsenal by a record scoreline of 8-2.

It was almost as if the dire situation Arsenal F.C are currently in dampened the celebratory mood amongst the players. Somber handshakes were interchanged and consolatory pats on the back of Arsenal players were dished out by the United players. One wonders what kind words Wayne Rooney offered to Wojciech Szczensy then.

The bigger question however, still persists- how does Arsene Wenger lift his team up from such a terrible, morale-sucking defeat? It was not as if Arsenal were expected to come away with a result against a United side who were so rampant against Tottenham last weekend.

Devastated by injuries and suspensions to key players, coming away from Old Trafford with a point would still have been realistic after a confidence-boosting mid-week win over Udinese that secured the North London’s side entry to the Champions League group stages.

However, even the most pessimistic Arsenal fans would not have been able to imagine the kind of punishment United were about to dish out on their side. Rihanna’s “S&M” comes to mind for Arsenal fans looking for a song to accompany the repeat telecast.

The gulf in class was encapsulated by the polarizing benches both teams set out. United’s bench oozed of quality and experience. Being able to call upon a substitutes such as Dimitar Berbatov, Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji Sung, Fabio, Javier Hernandez and Anders Lindegaard was simply frightening.

On the opposite end, Arsenal’s bench of Lukasz Fabianski, Marouane Chamakh, Henri Lansbry, Gilles Sunu, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ignasi Miquel and Oguzhan Ozyajup was frightening as well; for the Arsenal fan that is.

And as the match began, the gulf in class became a chasm.

The tone of the match was set in the first 10-15 minutes as United were clearly the dominant force in the game. Despite being outnumbered in the engine room, the energetic duo of Cleverley and Anderson completely outran the patched-up midfield trio of Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin.

After Welbeck nodded in the opening goal after Arsenal’s backline failed to clear their lines quick enough, Arsenal fans knew that they were in for a long night.

Having said that, Arsenal had their chances. After Walcott was felled in the box by Jonny Evans, Van Persie had the chance to level the scoreline only for his dreadful penalty to be saved by David De Gea. Had the Dutchman levelled the proceedings then, the game may not have slipped away as drastically as it did.

And if you don’t take your chances at Old Trafford, the Red Devils will punish you. The irrepressible Ashley Young trotted up the pitch soon after and unleashed a screamer from 20 yards out that bent past Szczesny and into the top left hand corner.

From then on, the flood gates were well and truly opened. Rooney made it 3-0 with a delightful freekick in to the top corner before Walcott somehow managed to squeeze a shot through De Gea’s legs to make it 3-1 before the break.

The Spanish goalkeeper had a decent game in goal but was once again culpable for conceding Arsenal’s first goal. If there was a chink in United’s armour, De Gea has to be it.

Arsenal threatened United in the first few minutes of the second half, prompting optimistic Arsenal fans to hope for what would have been an amazing comeback. However, Rooney dashed the Gunners’ hopes with another brilliantly executed free kick. Whatever Wenger said in the dressing room at half-time became irrelevant.

In a 6 minute blitz thereafter, Nani produced a cheeky dink over Szczesny to make it 5-1 before Park, who was barely on the pitch for 5 minutes, tucked the ball into the bottom of the net with a left foot finish.

Van Persie’s goal was scant consolation for the Gunners as Carl Jenkinson, who is clearly not ready to play week in week out for Arsenal yet, was sent off for hauling down Hernandez. Rooney sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot before Young, who must surely be United’s man of the match despite Rooney’s hat-trick, finished the scoring with another sublime curler from the edge of the box.

So where do both teams go from here now?

For Manchester United, the skies, or Barcelona, seem to be the limit. Ruthless, free-flowing and intricate passing football played at a breakneck pace characterizes United’s play while promising youngsters in Welbeck, Cleverly, Jones and Smalling continue to shine.

For Arsenal, the pressure just keeps mounting. Lying 17th in the table with eight senior players out due to injuries and suspensions, a beckoning international week is not what they need as there is as good as a chance as any that key players such as Robin van Persie will return injured.

Furthermore, two wins from the last 14 matches since their Carling Cup meltdown suggest that their slump started way before the season begun.

Having said that, it is still early days and the footballing fratenity’s propensity to celebrate and panic is irrationally high. Time will tell if United’s class of 2011 is the greatest of them all but Wenger may not be able to stay that long to see that.

How will United Shape Up in 2011/12?

Scenes of Joy as United Pick up their 19th Title

-by M, because everyone wants to be the manager and decide the starting XI.

In what was a topsy-turvy season, Manchester United did just about enough to secure their 19th title, fending off the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal. Early on the season, the Red Devils were written off by critics, who felt that Sir Alex had not addressed the problems the team faced, particularly in the centre of the park, where the lack of quality was all too apparent.

But the old maestro proved everyone wrong, winning the Premier League with what many considered to be a team of individuals who were not as brilliant individually or as imperious as previous title-winning sides built by Sir Alex, proving that when it came to winning, teamwork counted more than individual brilliance. Adding Rooney’s transfer request that was soon retracted and the absence of key man Darren Fletcher for months into the mix makes this latest trophy a greater achievement than most will give Sir Alex credit for.

United have wasted no time preparing for their title defence. Young, talented players have been purchased with big money with Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea coming into the side. With United’s net spend hitting 50 million pounds, there seems to be a notion that United will be spending big this season to build a side that is capable of challenging for trophies for the next few years to come, particularly with the FIFA Financial Fairplay rule coming into practice very soon. Jones should be the only one out of the three expected to play a minor role next season, especially if Ferdinand remains fit. De Gea was signed to replace the retiring Edwin Van der Sar while Ashley Young will be looking to make the left wing his personal office.

However, the biggest weakness in this Manchester United side has yet to be addressed. With the retirement of Paul Scholes, the team is screaming out for a creative central midfielder, someone capable of pulling the strings and creating moments of magic when games lie on a knife’s edge. Many potential recruits have been mentioned. Modric of Spurs has been widely tipped to replace Scholes but he has apparently stated his desire to move to Chelsea. Schweinsteiger of Bayern Munich is another viable option touted by the media while Wesley Sneijder is the pundits’ favourite to replace the Ginger Ninja next season.

Sneijder has been linked to United

Recent reports have certainly added fuel to the fire. United’s first team coach, Rene Meulesteen, was recently quoted  as saying that Sneijder would be “perfect for Manchester United”. While Inter has insisted Sneijder was not leaving Inter and the man himself has reiterated his happiness in Milan, he has not explicitly ruled out a move to Old Trafford and has, in recent years, declared an interest to play in the red of United. However, whether or not that becomes a reality will depend on whether Sir Alex sees Sneijder as his ideal replacement and if they are able to fend off the interests of Chelsea and City, should Inter decide to sell their Dutch maestro.

There is a genuine sense of excitement around Old Trafford for next season. With classy young talents in the form of Jones, Young and De Gea arriving and deadwood such as Gibson, O’Shea and Bebe leaving, there is a belief amongst United fans that they are on the cusp of another title-winning run. However, this time, they face sterner challengers in the form of cash-rich Manchester City and Chelsea, who will undoubtedly be looking to improve on last season.

Potential Starting XI: David de Gea, Fabio da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Carrick (Sneijder/Schweinsteiger), Young, Rooney, Hernandez