1. A very indifferent first 45 minutes from United. We started off the match in a classy fashion, controlling the football and dictating the play. It culminated in a lovely goal from United to go ahead and chances from Hernandez, Welbeck and Giggs were but a few opportunities that we had to extend the lead.
Then, once again, we got complacent. Norwich got a foothold in the game and started to plenty of opportunities, mostly from set-pieces. All of a sudden we were pegged back and for 20 minutes, had to defend solidly to keep out an advancing Norwich. It was a typical 45 minutes from United this season and we need to cut the complacency out of our game if we are to continue the chase for the title.
Fast forward to the second half and we did the exact, same thing. We came out defending our 1-0 lead and were lucky to not pay the ultimate price. A fine equaliser from Grant Holt in the 83rd minute came after relentless pressure from Norwich.
They deserved a point. It was almost a carbon copy of the Ajax game – score early and sit back and soak the pressure and pay the price. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Giggs popped up on his 900th appearance to score with the outside of his left foot in the 92nd minute to get United out of jail.
2. Scholes and Giggs score the goals. Say no more. With a combined age of 75, United’s old-guard delivered when United needed them most. Ryan was making his 900th appearance today and what a fantastic way to cap it.
He scored his debut goal against Norwich in 1991. Fast-forward over 20 years and he scores the extra-time winner. There are no superlatives that can sum up just what Giggs has brought to this club and to its lasting image.
It must be noted that for the most part, both players were far from their best with uncharacteristic misplaced passes and errors over the 90 minutes.
That, however, is brushed under the carpet with the result. United simply didn’t deserve to win today and it was written in the script that Giggs would pop up with the winner. What a player. What a man. What he is doing will never be repeated and we can count ourselves lucky to have watched Giggs in the flesh.
3. Nani. For the first 20 minutes, Nani was ripping Norwich to shreds with his trickery and glue-like ball control. His fantastic cross to Scholes was the highlight of the match for him – it was all downhill from there.
Nani seems to love frustrating us as fans. He immediately got cocky and arrogant as soon as United took the lead and was inviting tackles from Norwich, culminating in bookings for their players. However, he got too big for his boots far too quickly.
As Jekyll and Hyde share the same body, Nani continued to show his ugly side. Poor passing, bad movement and terrible decision making summed up the rest of the game for him.
He was one of United’s worst performers on the whole of the afternoon that nearly saw us throw away vital points in the title race. He didn’t have the desire to chase back or to bring the game to Norwich and for a man who was so impressive at the start of the season, he has deflated into an almost comical character. He needs to improve, vastly, if he isn’t going to be on the wrong end of a serious backlash from fans.
4. Dave “Another Great Save” De Gea. Take a bow David. Once again, he was one of (if not the) best performers for United today. He has almost single-handedly won United two points here.
He was at no fault for the fantastic turn-and-finish from Grant Holt that brought Norwich into the game and if it wasn’t for his world-class shot stopping prior to that equaliser, United would have been down and out by that point.
Three world-class saves spring to mind immediately but for the overall shape of the game, I think that was David’s best performance. He looked strong, confident and assertive in his box in a match where there were a lot of balls swung into the box. Whereas in other games he has been limp in the strength of his jump, he was strong and physical today.
Any great team needs a great keeper. It was always going to be a difficult process for De Gea to step into the shoes left behind by Van Der Sar but he has shown great determination to turn around his performances this season.
How many points has he single-handedly won us now in the Premier League? Chelsea, Norwich, Liverpool to name but a few. If he can keep us these performances when the team as a whole is playing poor, then we might have a chance at knocking City off the top.
5. Welbeck was fantastic, if you ignore the last 10 minutes. In the majority of the games where Rooney has been missing, United have been poor in the attacking third. Today, however, Danny Welbeck filled the gap fantastically well.
Up until when we were complacent in the first half, we were playing some of the best football we had played in recent weeks. If not for a fantastic save from Norwich keeper Ruddy, Welbeck would have neatly finished off United’s best move of the game.
Another great move in the second half saw Welbeck acutely chip over the advancing Ruddy and if not for a clearance off the line, Welbeck would have settled our nerves with a second.
Danny, however, spooned two fantastic chances for us in quick succession after Norwich had equalised. A gloriously weighted cross from Giggs was screaming out for Danny to plant it in the net but he simply missed the header completely. Another chance went begging for Danny soon after but Giggs’ elegant winner saved his blushes.
United are a stronger team when Welbeck is playing up front simply because of his relentless movement around the pitch. The return of Rooney next week against Tottenham should bring out the best in Danny and hopefully he can perform to the same level as today, as long as he can add a goal to that performance.