1. Ash Young. If the penalty decision against QPR got under the skin of some people, then this one will do much the same. In my opinion, there was more contact in this decision than there was against QPR but I still don’t want to see it happening, not least at United.
Statistics tell me that Young has won more penalties than any other player in the Premier League since 2009 and with his eccentric falls in the box, it is not hard to see why. The frustrating thing is that somewhere inside my head I hear a voice saying “Everyone else does it, why can’t we?”. Then, I quickly remember that it is simply not the United way and never will be. We don’t want to win by cheating. Ashley needs to cut this part of his game if he is to not slip downwards in the estimations of right-thinking United fans.
2. Paul bloody Scholes. Man of the match. 64/67 (94%) completed passes. 8/10 possession duels won. 2 tackles. 10/10 victories for United when Scholes has started. Phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. Scholes has not only become the pacemaker for the United run-in but is simply setting a precedent in the league for quality.
Will Lampard be doing what Scholes is doing when he is 37? No, he isn’t even doing it now. Will Xavi be doing what Scholes is doing when he is 37? Come back to me in five years and let me know. He really is a once in a lifetime player and his consistent man-of-the-match winning performances are a testament to that.
Quite how we are going to cope when he finally does hang up his boots is beyond me.
3. Rafael the established right-back. What a great performance that was today from one half of the twins. It was his most complete performance. From marauding runs overlapping Valencia to well timed tackles, Rafael didn’t put a foot wrong today.
Considering SAF has confirmed Fabio will be going out on loan next season, it is a testament to the progress that Rafael has made. He is far from a polished product but he is definitely doing himself no harm. In his last five performances, United have kept five clean sheets and he has become a firm starter. Towards the start of the season, the only player I wanted to see playing at right-back was Phil Jones but Rafael has deservedly earned his stripes and staked his claim to first choice right-back at United.
4. Rooney was off colour. Rooney was on a hat-trick when he was taken off but it was a poor representation of his overall performance, by his standards. At one point, he gave the ball away on four consecutive occasions with quite simple passes. It is not the Rooney the have become expectant of watching. He wasn’t helping the attacks flow and was more of a hindrance than anything.
One thing that should be noted is his resurgence in the penalty department. He missed a few on the bounce before banging in two against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and, correct me if I am wrong, has not missed a penalty since. Very professional Wazza.
Poor performance aside, he is now only three goals away from his all-time record in the Premier League of 26. Considering it has been far from an incredible season from Wayne, it is a fantastic record, but that is the United way. Even when we aren’t playing our best, we still somehow manage to come out on top, much to the frustration of our opposition.
5. The pendulum swings back to the red. We really couldn’t afford to drop anything today and we didn’t. It was far from a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination but an early goal allowed us to dictate the tempo. We didn’t let slip and Welbeck’s well timed goal just before the break put the ball firmly in our court.
We have never lost a game at Old Trafford when we went into the break leading and we didn’t change that today. Two more goals from Rooney and Nani helped bring the goal deficit down to four and we go into another week of the Premier League happily atop the throne.
City piled the pressure on us with their 6-1 drumming of Norwich and we responded admirably. Next up is Everton at home. This is undoubtedly a tougher fixture than Aston Villa but you have to imagine that some air would of been taken out of their campaign with the loss to Liverpool. Either way, the title is still ours to lose.
If we can go to the Etihad with a four or more point gap over City, then we will have one hand firmly on number 20.