1. Michael Carrick. Another indomitable performance from our most consistent midfielder yesterday that was rightfully topped off with a delightful left footed finish to seal the game off at 3-0. From an inch perfect through ball to Welbeck to his goal, Carrick was poised all over the pitch and made himself a real presence in the middle of the park that allowed United to dictate play for the full 90 minutes. Six interceptions, four tackles and 59/67 completed passes show just how Carrick conducted the orchestra. Carrick didn’t get on the score-sheet at all last season and has already netted twice in this campaign and it is a testament to the attitude that he has always shown, even when he was on the wrong end of strong criticism from both fans and journalists alike. Our central midfield troubles mean that Carrick staying fit is an absolute necessity if we are going to genuinely push on this season, so onwards and upward Michael.
2. The return of Paul Scholes. Anything Henry does Scholesy does better, anything Henry does Scholesy does too. When I saw Scholes’ name on the starting team-sheet yesterday, I was slightly bemused. After 44 minutes, my concerns seemed justified as an out of sorts Scholes was struggling to make the impact he used to do with ease – misplaced paces were rife and it was apparent that Scholes hadn’t made a competitive start in six months. Cue his goal and Old Trafford erupting – that was the first time Scholes netted at Old Trafford in two years and it was very much needed in the grand scale of the game. United were then able to use the advantage and push on to secure a comfortable victory on the day but the re-emergence of Paul Scholes is a diversion away from the issues at United. Our midfield desperation is the only reason Scholes is playing once again and we simply cannot have another summer go by without buying in a big name midfielder coming into the squad.
3. Rooney is out of sorts. Cue negative media attention on Rooney again and cue another lapse in form. Rooney was once again all over the tabloids due to a night out with Evans and was subsequently dropped from the Blackburn game. A brace against City seemingly ended that momentary lapse but an out-of-sorts display yesterday brought his dip in form back into the limelight. Rooney has now missed four out of his last eight penalties and despite having two assists to his name yesterday, it wasn’t the sort of performance we are used to seeing from our talisman. Quite how he missed after Valencia sweeped a cross in with the goal at his mercy is something that summed up how he was playing overall. Can he sort his head out in time for the Emirates next weekend? Rooney tends to pipe up during the bigger matches and after already scoring a hat-trick against the Gunners at Old Trafford, you would like to think he will be able to step up a gear and get back on track.
4. The winger situation at United. Antonio Valencia was superb yesterday in every respect – he always ran into space and the amount of great deliveries he put into the box was fantastic, quite how we didn’t score more as a consequence of them is a bit baffling really. As for Nani, he has once again fallen into his traditional lull in form following his blistering few weeks in December. Few players are as frustrating to watch as Nani because you know how talented he can be but how often do you see it? Not as much as you see him moaning at the referee or clutching an injured limb. Park Ji Sung came on and did his typical shift for which he has gained a reputation for and Ryan Giggs typically stepped in to calm the tempo down for the last 20 minutes. With Ashley Young still sidelined, Valencia will need to keep up this sort of form because he was central to our attacking play yesterday and even allowed for Rafael to show some great promise streaking down the wing from the full back position.
5. Danny Welbeck’s injury. Welbeck put in a stellar performance yesterday from making darting runs to tracking back and sticking a leg in to win the ball back but his injury following his goal is a worrying one. Javier Hernandez has struggled in recent appearances to have the same impact that the diminutive Mexican had in previous games because Welbeck had stamped his place on the first XI spot by convincing SAF with his performances. However, a game ending injury to his hamstring after he toe-poked United’s second goal of the game means that he may well be sidelined once again. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that he may be fit enough to face Arsenal and the partnership he has begun to mould with Rooney has brought dividends to United, so here is to hoping that his injury is nothing but a minor blip on his debut season in the United first-team.