Another shaky away performance. An early kick-off on New Years Day away to Stoke City is never going to be a walk in the park and so it proved.
Windy conditions made it difficult from the first whistle and Stoke’s strong start was indicative of that. United recovered well in the first half and had lots of possession for large parts of the second but chances were far and few between.
A draw away to Stoke, after the performance United gave, was a fair result because United didn’t do enough to win.
Jonny Evans has majorly regressed. When Nemanja Vidic was ruled out for the season back in 2011, Jonny Evans came to the fore and was fantastic in his absence. However, he has since failed to build on that.
Last year under David Moyes, like so many other United players, Evans was poor and he has failed to get going at all under Louis van Gaal.
For his first half performance, Evans should count himself lucky that he didn’t get substituted like Paddy McNair did a few weeks ago.
Radamel Falcao was excellent. Falcao thrived on the physical style of football today against Stoke and played the role of a hold-up striker very well.
His goal was also typical of a top striker inside the six yard box and the fact all three of his goals have come within seven yards of the goal is telling of how much of a poacher he is.
The only thing that was missing from Falcao’s performance was a full 90 minutes…
Strange substitutions. United had 70% possession in the second half up until Radamel Falcao and Luke Shaw were taken off but the game changed as soon as they left the pitch. All of a sudden, Stoke were on the front foot and looked the more likely to score.
Falcao was United’s best attacker today but Van Gaal chose to leave Van Persie on. Falcao looked surprised and confused, so were United fans. Was it down to fitness? Potentially, but Falcao’s expression when he saw he was going off suggests otherwise. Putting Adnan Januzaj at left wing-back was also an interesting change.
Over the course off the season, Van Gaal has made some strange substitutions and today was no different.