After the dismay of Wembley and the frustration that was the goalless draw with Newcastle the previous week, Manchester United will have been keen to get their title charge back on track, and take themselves a step closer to an historic 19th league title.
In the wake of Chelsea’s recent resurgence, Sir Alex Ferguson will have been well aware that his team could ill afford any dropped points, and the importance in keeping the West London club and Arsenal at a reasonable distance. And with 60 minutes gone, bringing about 4 hours without a United goal, in a match that saw United mostly in control, it looked like it may well have been another frustrating afternoon, a game that lacked an end product, potentially yet more dropped points.
But, as fans have grown accustomed to this season, a lifeline was provided by the Mexican sensation, popping up in the right place at the right time to place Valencia’s cross past Tim Howard with 7 minutes to spare. Relief for United in what was considered a significant 3 points, now requiring 7 if they were to regain the Premier League crown. And as such, here are five things that may be taken from the game.
1) Fabio Da Silva’s tenacious attitude is admirable
With Rafael having been injured of late, and a lack of a true right back, it fell upon Fabio to occupy the right side of the defence. The logic behind this being that an attack minded right back such as Fabio, combined with Valencia would be more effective in exploiting the vulnerable Leighton Baines opposing them, providing more attacking opportunities going down the wing. And so this proved very successful with the young Brazilian regularly getting involved in attacking play and Valencia able to exploit Everton’s weakness effectively.
However, the main point about Fabio is his spirit in his play. As his own progress had been hampered by injury early on, it is only recently that United fans have been able to see the talents of “the other twin” and make first impressions and some will say plenty of promise has been shown. We saw Fabio fight for every ball that came his way, taking a couple of knocks on the way, he seemed to get back up, unfazed ready to get stuck in for the next chance that came his way. The image of the scrappy little defender with tissues up his nose from an earlier knock fighting for possession will have drawn admiration, displaying an unrelenting attitude in refusing to back off and making a nuisance of himself to Everton’s forwards.
2) Should Nani be playing on the left?
I am aware that merely weeks ago, I stated that I felt the combination of Nani and Valencia could work despite reservations made in the past about it’s efficacy. However, one must admit at times that this partnership on the wings may be far more awkward that one would hope for. With Valencia injured, Nani seemed to thrive out on the right, producing some of the finest performances since arriving at Old Trafford. Although initially the prospect of these two on the wings looked hopeful, there have been times where Nani has looked out of place on the left, although he displayed some promising individualism, his delivery lacked precision and his involvement in build up play was not at the standard we have come to expect of late.
It may well have been an off day, as the rest of United’s attack seemed to be in the midst of in recent games, but all the same there are doubts as to whether the Valencia – Nani combination can become as strong as fans would hope. The fact that Nani found himself replaced with Michael Owen later on was suggestive of the off-colour afternoon the Portugal international was having. Incidentally, it should be noted that Michael Owen looked sharp on his introduction, wasting no time in getting involved and providing a new threat for United up front.
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