Manchester United got back to winning ways after a disappointing game against Everton, with a comfortable 3-0 win over struggling West Ham. More crucially, this also keeps the pressure on league leaders Chelsea, who have a tough weekend fixture against City at home – tough all the more after a gruelling midweek loss against Inter Milan. Sir Alex stuck with a 4-4-2, and Anderson and Ben Foster returned to the starting lineup after being out of favour for a number of games. The biggest news however, was the return of Vidic, about whom transfer rumours to Real Madrid and Barcelona have been rife this season. This was an ideal fixture to get three points, and with great expectation among the fans, the teams kicked off.
The game started off as everyone expected, with United having most of the possession. As has been the case for most of this season however, for all the possession, there were no clear-cut opportunities for either Berbatov or Rooney. Indeed, the best chance early on went to West Ham through a counter attack. Behrami found himself at the edge of the box with the ball with a chance to put one past Ben Foster, but he dragged his shot wide, much to the relief of the United fans. Foster, whose confidence has not been the best this season, nearly made “Roy Carrol look like Buffon” (according to a member on our forum!) after he fumbled Dimanti’s strike, and nearly dropped the ball past the goal line. This however, would prove to be one of the last times in the game that the goalkeeper was actually made to work by West Ham. Anderson, however, had to go off soon after, and it is believed that he will be out for the season – for 6 months or so, which is shame considering he only recently managed to get back to Sir Alex’s good books.
At the other end, Valencia had a great chance to put United ahead, after a swivelling Rooney cross found him ahead of the Hammers left back, but the winger was unable to get a proper shot ion target – mind you, he did shift to his left, which, as we all know, isn’t his strongest side. United did eventually get the lead on 38 minutes after some great buildup play. Rooney played the ball to Berbatov who found Valencia at the edge of the box. His volley-cross then found Wayne Rooney in the centre of the box to head home. Not too much happened thereafter in the half, but Old Trafford was relieved to see a goal before half time, after so much dominance of the ball.
At the start of the second half, United almost scored straight after the whistle when Ji Sung Park, Anderson’s replacement, took a shot from 12 yards out, but rattled the crossbar. The team looked rampant, and a second goal looked imminent. The return of Vidic at the back eased the tension of a lot of fans, as Carlton Cole got barely a sniff out of the Serbian centre back. The second goal did come after 55 minutes, and it was that man Wayne Rooney at it again, with another headed goal, his 27th goal in all competitions. Once again, it was Antonio Valencia who provided the cross from the right wing. That’s 8 headed goals this season – double the total number of headed goals that Rooney had in all seasons COMBINED.
Realising that the win was in the bag, Sir Alex then took off Rooney and Berbatov, replacing them with Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf. Owen made an immediate impact, perhaps as a message to Fabio Capello, as he scored just 2 minutes after coming on. Paul Scholes threaded a pass through the West Ham defence, and Owen, who timed his run perfectly, coolly finished it past a helpless Robert Green, a typical Owen goal. Chances fell to Diouf and Scholes, but they did not manage to trouble Robert Green with their efforts.
A 3-0 win, and once again, just a point behind Chelsea. The title race this season is hotter than it has been in quite some time, and for once, I think, many United fans wouldn’t mind City not losing their game this coming weekend!
Best Moment: Vidic’s commanding return
Worst Moment: Anderson’s injury
Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney/ Antonio Valencia
2012/2013 Pickem Winner
Congratulations to RedDevilDazzy who clinched the winners spot of our pickem predictions game, it was close!!