Rear-guard action. That was, as Gary Neville pointed out, the best defensive display as a unit we have had all season.
The bullish Vidic was imperious at the heart of defence, clearing up everything that was thrown at him. The resurgent Rio put in his best performance this season including a goal stopping slide tackle to stop Defoe. Excellent performances from Rafael and Evra stopped Bale and Lennon getting too many clear cut opportunities.
But it was the performances of Carrick and Jones that stood out. At Old Trafford, the space between the midfield and defence was exploited by Tottenham. Today, that space didn’t exist. They were both phenomenal, Carrick in particular. Rightfully named man-of-the-match, he was at his masterful best in thwarting Tottenham whilst still offering a lot to United going forward. Shame it couldn’t of been three points.
A reality check. We have taken ten points from away games against Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham. Last season, we took four points from the same fixtures. All of our tough away games apart from Arsenal are out of the way and we are sitting five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the league.
Over the years, we have dished out more than our fair share of dramatic goals at the death. Today, we were on the wrong end of one after Tottenham knocked for the whole second half. Pessimism isn’t necessary – we are in a fantastic position going into what will most certainly be a tough two month period with the UEFA Champions League knock-out stages and the later stages of the FA Cup as well as a busy Premier League schedule.
Squeaky bum time incoming.
De Gea. His performance is sure to be one of the main talking points from the game against Tottenham today but it should be for the right reasons. Some will argue that he lost us two points today – wrong. He won us one point.
His world class saves, notably to keep out Dempsey from four yards and Bale from a deflected drive, kept United in front up until the last minute when his weak punch fell to the feet of Lennon who made no mistake in finding Dempsey to net the winner.
Twitter has been bursting with positive and negative attitudes towards him but it is simple – he will be the world’s best goalkeeper at some stage. What he already has can’t be taught, a natural shot stopping ability, but he has to learn how to use his presence in the box.
Schmeichel or Van Der Sar would of clattered through any player to make sure his punch went 20 yards out of the box. In time, De Gea will do that and patience is needed considering he is still only 22.
Van Perfect. Here is Robin van Persie’s now traditional slot in the talking points of the match. Another game, another goal. That’s 18 already in the league so far from van Persie, a truly phenomenal return at this point in a debut season for any player.
Before the game, his interview with Geoff Shreeves just made me love him even more. He isn’t happy with his return this season because he feels that he could have scored even more.
He said: “It is going well but if you start to believe it is going well, you will go down.” It sums him up perfectly. He won’t rest on his laurels and will always look at improving himself – it is the hallmark that splits a good player from a great player, striving for more even at the peak of his game.
Even if we had paid £30 million for van Persie, it still would have been a bargain.
All Welbeck needs is a goal. Another stellar performance from Welbeck today that warranted plaudits but once again, he couldn’t get himself on the score sheet. With eight recoveries, he won the ball back more than anyone on the pitch and it is his bulldog attitude without the ball that makes him so important to the team.
Chances were limited for Danny with a cross from Rafael to him probably being his stand-out chance. After his man-of-the-match performance against Liverpool last weekend, it was good to see Sir Alex Ferguson keep his faith in Welbeck.
Despite being a striker, his game certainly isn’t all about goals. It is the general interplay, the involvement all around the pitch