Manchester United just can't quite catch a break at the moment in terms of injuries. Just when you think we now have the depth to challenge on two major fronts, the captain gets sidelined for 8 weeks and then Antonio Valencia suffers a knock.
Fingers crossed we don't get to that situation.
We limped past Newcastle to get into the last 16 of the League Cup and as fate would have it, we were drawn against Chelsea away for the next tie. It means we get to play Chelsea twice in the space of 2 days at the end of next month. It certainly shouldn't be a problem if we have some good assortment of players available to juggle between the two games.
Spurs are next up in the league at home in a fixture that we have usually won. What we do not need tomorrow is for Spurs to break that jinx. The three points could mean that we'll end the day at the top of the table for the first time since that almighty collapse against Everton last season. Of course that is all because the league leaders travel to the Emirates to play a team that has shown enough so far to raise a few eye brows.
A lot of the team that will play will have had a week's rest following the League Cup in midweek.
That said though, we're back to the puzzle that Sir Alex had on his hands at the start of the season. Does he play both Wayne and Robin in attack at the same time, and if so, what about Kagawa? Injury to Rooney helped the manager with that for a month and Robin has really staked a claim for himself in the side by notching an impressive 5 goals in 5 games including a match winning hat trick. Logic therefore points to him starting tomorrow. Whether Wayne did enough in midweek to win himself a place, we shall see.
At the moment, we've not really been convincing in terms of our play and performance. Blogs, podcasts and match reports have for the past three years pointed out how our midfield has been overrun by opposition as mere as Southampton. Its that uncertainty when we don't have the ball that has made us fodder for teams. At the moment, we're notching up the results--which is all I can ask for---but against better teams, we could be made to pay the price. Remember, tomorrow is one of those days when we're up against dangerous midfields since Spurs have a one Moussa Dembele who run the show at OT for Fulham earlier this season. It'll be an embarrassment of sort and a sort of acknowledgement of weakness if our midfield allows him to do the same tomorrow.
Indeed, the difference tomorrow could come down to just that.
He's to another Home Win.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Friday, 28 September 2012
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Ahead of that game, we've been dealt a huge injury blow by the news that our captain is out for 2 months after undergoing knee surgery. Quite simply a new low in terms of injuries that we've stooped to.
At United, we do have a fair number of defenders. Smalling, Jones, Rio, Vida and Evans all play in two available positions in the team. It's however baffling that at the moment, we can only have two fit for a game. We've already dropped points in the only fixture where we had only one of that group fit and hence had to put in Carrick as cover. You do wonder if getting another body in during January would be such a bad move given that its an aeon since we had that group all fit.
Tonight is one of those days when we get to see just what our Academy lads are made of. Make no mistake about it, United do have some talent down the ranks that is waiting to explode on the big stage.
I'd personally be disappointed tonight if we don't see Lingard, Cole, Powell and Keane in the team tonight. Tunicliffe is another player who if well taken care of could give us that Roy Keane factor in the team.
A few other regulars like Chicharito, Welbeck and Anderson could use a game too.
This competition is a lose-lose situation for me. Winning it doesn't really feel like success and yet getting knocked out will have the media on our backs for a while. So, let the kids have their chance, if we make it far, well and good. Then again, I never like to see United lose, especially in the manner in which we were dumped out by Crystal Palace last season so a performance is just in order.
Onwards and Upwards!
Monday, 24 September 2012
Boy it's been a long wait to use that title for a post review. Anfield had turned into a nightmare for the past few seasons, so much so that the fixture was soon becoming a write off. Yes, Liverpool have been getting poorer for the past few seasons but they always seemed to save their best for us. Even the headless chicken that is Dirk Kuyt seemed to transform into a mega world class player when United visited.
We were therefore due a win there sometime and even going into the match, you did feel confident that United had a team that could go there and not get overawed and outrun by Liverpool.
Admittedly, we were very poor in the first half, but we did defend considerably well. In fact, I thought Rio and Jonny held themselves out well as a partnership.
Such games usually hinge on a moment of madness and or brilliance. Thankfully for us, it was Shelvy that would get the rush of blood that saw him go full throttle into a challenge with Jonny Evans. Our boy came off worse and Liverpool were reduced to 10 men. Cue Paul Scholes.
It's a bit odd that we never really seemed to get going until Liverpool took the lead. We can only thank goodness that it was way early in the second half and so we had enough time to sort out our attitude towards the fixture.
Rafael scored an absolute peach of a goal. If and when the boy learns how to defend without recklessness, he'll be a joy to behold in the side. At the moment, it seems a regular berth in the side is the only way he'll improve.
I thought Shinji Kagawa did well to withstand the bullying he suffered throughout the match. I have no doubt in my mind that he's an absolute complement to the qualities of Carrick. Whereas the latter hardly makes it to the opposition's penalty box, the former is always in and around it providing clever inter-play with the forwards and hence keeping the opposition defence away from our midfield.
Finally it was a relief to see us put away a penalty. You can imagine what would have gone down if RVP had missed our fourth penalty of the season. It's now 5 goals in 6 appearances for the Dutchman and at this rate, he'll pay back a lot of the millions we invested in him.
And then there was NANI. Quite why the boy doesn't do the simple things right remains a mystery. His talents remain important to Manchester United but until someone finds that key to unlock that genius wholly, he'll remain the subject of a huge divide between fans.
Finally, we can't afford to underwrite the importance of another three points on the board. For as long as we are not top, its important to remain as close to the summit as possible. Chelsea are the pacesetters for now so it was imperative that we keep tabs on them. It's quite a daunting fixture list coming up but you do feel that its possibly just what we need to keep our game top.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Friday, 21 September 2012
As you can imagine therefore, my mind is this close to imploding with all opinions of the Everton, Fulham, Sunderland and Wigan games. But I trust that the plethora of blogs on the Internet these days has done justice to those games. I shall therefore blog about what Sky have been dubbing 'Super Sunday' all through the week.
Nine points from four games is not the worst opening start to a season that we've had...in fact I'd argue that despite dropping all three points at Everton.
Minus all the handshaking and colour references, the Liverpool game this weekend is and has always been a big game. There's no game that leaves a bitter taste to my mouth after defeat that is more sour than after a defeat to Liverpool. It's therefore not been a good half a decade of visiting Merseyside. The last time we racked up all three points from the Dippers on their own patch, Carlos Tevez was in our ranks---and in fact, he got the winner that Sunday afternoon.
Since then we've lost all but the tie there last season.
In all probability therefore, Sunday will be a highly charged and emotional event. The mood will shift swiftly from the mournful pre-match Hillsborough respects to the eternal hatred and animosity between the two clubs.
Its arguable that this will be the strongest team we have available for this trip in 4 years so a win is not beyond us. I'd like to see the manager try and go out with a team to win rather than one not to lose. Recently, we've not done ourselves justice in big fixtures because Fergie went out with teams tuned not to lose and that is just not our philosophy of play. Let's have a full bloody go at them so that if we lose, we'll know we gave them a game of football.
We've got a rather grilling fixture list from here till the end of October so he's to some good run of form that could shape our season.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!