Five Things We Learned – United vs. Everton at Old Trafford

3) The absence of Vidic did not cost United

Based on statistics, the fact that Vidic was rested for Saturday’s game may have been a point of concern for some fans. Despite the presence of Rio Ferdinand, the decision to partner him with Johnny Evans might also have added to doubts about whether United possessed a solid defensive partnership, particularly as the young Irishman has not had the most impressive of seasons, looking out of sorts at times, and being upstaged by the impressive debutant that is Chris Smalling. However, one must say that Evans looked solid at the back, looking assured and failed to give Everton much room for maneuver when looking for chances. If anything, some may have felt it was Ferdinand who looked a little off the pace, despite rarely being troubled and looking comfortable, some will feel he was lucky not to concede a penalty when challenging Anichebe.

4) Hernandez – ever reliant

One thing that the United faithful have come to expect from the young Mexican, is 100% effort whenever he plays. Throughout games this season, we have seen him constantly try to make himself a threat going forward, making runs and finding ways to create space for himself that many defenses have struggled to cope with and more often than not has led to a moment where he finds himself in the right place at the right time to put himself on the scoresheet. And once again, the “Little Pea” did just that.

Throughout the game he looked to terrorise the Merseyside club’s defenders, and even thought United’s front line was not having the most productive of afternoons, the £6 million striker never gave in, and found his efforts rewarded with a strong header, connecting with Valencia’s perfect cross, finishing at Howard’s near post and giving United the lead that had alluded them for so long. It was just another memory to add to what has been an outstanding season for the debutant, adapting to life in the Premier League faster than many had thought possible, on his way to notching up 19 goals in all competitions.

Even Sir Alex Ferguson has been taken back by United’s new star, but admitted his hard work has paid dividends “He is getting his reward for all his hard work. He is first in for training at nine o’clock and last to leave.” On the subject of hard work, it should be worth mentioning Valencia’s own work ethic. On a day that was not his best, he also displayed a never say die attitude, refusing to be knocked back by some play that was not up to his own high standards and persevering to the end, and enjoying the fruits of his labour with an assist.

5) 7 points to win the title

It was understandable that Ferguson would have wanted to rotate his squad for the game against Everton. With a schedule that reads Schalke, Arsenal, Schalke and Chelsea, then one could see why injuries and fatigue are issues that the United manager will have been keen to avoid. The game at Old Trafford was drawn out more than he would have hoped for as well, despite United’s dominance throughout, the front line was wasteful, failing to capitalise on plenty of opportunities to seal the 3 points far earlier than they did.

Of course, this will have mattered little past the fact that United notched up the win, and now go into the next week’s game with Arsenal knowing that 7 points is what is needed to bring the title back up North. With Chelsea having discovered form of late, the importance of maintaining the 6 point advantage at the top of the table will have done plenty to help Ferguson’s team feel more assured in keeping the title within their grasp and that the next 2 weeks could make or break their season. Such is the belief that the title has already been won, that some bookmakers have started paying out on bets made for United, but the more cautious of United fans will not feel safe until everything is mathematically sealed, such has been the unpredictability of this season.

So with the season reaching a nail-biting climax, many fans will be eagerly anticipating the weeks to come. With the next two weeks possibly being of the most importance in deciding United’s season, fans will hope that the squad stays strong and are able to see off the threats to their success.

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