Second half performance. In what is becoming a distressingly traditional occurrence this season, Manchester United’s performance dipped dramatically in the second half. After an impressive response to going down so early, we were the polar opposite after the break.
We sat deeper and deeper as the half went on and invited a resurgent Southampton onto us. To be fair to them, they played very well. They pressed us and gave us little time on the ball and had 65% of possession in the second half. When does a team ever do that to United at Old Trafford?
A win is a win but it is certainly worrying to see us struggle to see out a winning position comfortably. A more clinical team would of surely punished us tonight.
Seven points clear. As far as midweeks go, United have had a nigh on perfect one this time around. Chelsea, City, Arsenal and Tottenham all dropped points. City are now seven points behind with Chelsea languishing 13 off the lead already. A comfortable but not complete gap is opening up.
Last year, we were eight points clear with six games left so it is paramount that we don’t take this gap to heart. We need to put our foot firmly on the gas pedal and push on so that by the time City visit Old Trafford in April, the title is all but wrapped up already.
The Premier League is our priority this year. After City stole it from us, in such unceremonious circumstances on goal difference, Ferguson and the players will be hungry at the thought of claiming it back. As it stands now, it is in our hands but we just have to make sure that complacency doesn’t creep in and we concentrate in every single game from here on in.
A poor Old Trafford pitch. The turf was heavily watered tonight before kick-off but it didn’t stop it from cutting up severely. The pitch is due to be completely replaced in the summer but it is really impacting the team this year.
The heavy surface is making it difficult to play under foot and it is cutting up badly. Balls are bobbling around and it is stopping United from playing quick passes along the ground that we have been using so proficiently this year.
Given that United have already got pretty much all of our tough away games out of the way this year, it now seems daunting to think that we have to play everybody at home. On that pitch, anything can happen.
Shinji Kagawa. Slowly but surely he is moulding his way into the United team. Like any foreign player in a new environment, patience is required but tonight Kagawa looked majestic in the first half at least.
His sumptuous pass to Rooney looked simple but was so effective. A delicate sweep of his foot guided a perfectly weighted ball through to Rooney that he simply could not miss.
His performance dipped in the second half but so did everybody else’s. Kagawa started off the season looking extremely comfortable in the Premier League only for an injury to thwart his progress. Now that he is getting a good run of games under his belt, he is starting to show the artistry and incisive edge that he can bring to this United team.
Wayne Rooney. Another game back from injury and two more goals on the score sheet for Rooney including his 100th goal for Manchester United at Old Trafford. That puts him in the top ten goalscorers in the Premier League this year. All things considered, that is impressive.
Tonight, Rooney looked the business until Southampton began to press so effectively. As is always the case with Rooney, it takes him quite a few games to get back to his best after time on the sidelines. With Real Madrid only two weeks away, we really need him firing on all cylinders.
Robin van Persie might be our go-to-guy for goals this season but to me, Rooney is more important to team as a whole. It is his complete all-round game that makes him such a unique, world class player. When Rooney plays well, so do United.