Manchester United faced the dilemma of playing two matches within 48 hours – so most people expected Sir Alex to shuffle the pack for the fixture at Sunderland.
The likes of Rooney, Ferdinand and Hernandez did not make the trip to the Stadium of Light; Welbeck and Cleverley found themselves on the bench with Young, Kagawa, Smalling and Buttner all starting.
In an interview prior to the match, Sir Alex confirmed revenge was not on his mind despite the behaviour of the Sunderland fans on the final day of last season.
On news of hearing Man City had stolen the title with a late goal against QPR, the Black Cats fans proceeded to celebrate by doing the Poznan celebration. Whilst this is obvious ‘banter’ for some, it was something many of the United players and fans would remember and use as motivation.
I would go as far as saying that 99% of the Old Trafford faithful would like to see Sunderland relegated purely for what happened that day.
Me personally? I would like to see Sunderland relegated for being the most boring side to play in the top flight for the last ten years.
With this fixture kicking off early it was the perfect opportunity for the Red Devils to heap further pressure on the chasing pack by going a staggering 18 points clear.
The only goal in the game came from some good play by Van Persie down the left hand side – with his shot taking a double deflection and ending up in the net from the knee of Titus Bramble.
Kagawa, Young and Van Persie linked very well in the first half and cut Sunderland open on more than one occasion – without managing to add any further goals.
In the second half, Sunderland piled on the pressure but United stood firm; De Gea and Vidic were again colossal at the back.
The usually ever present and un-droppable Patrice Evra was rested today, with Alexander Buttner given a rare start.
There have been many doubts over who will be the long term replacement of Evra – and if Buttner was really the man for the job.
Having seen the young Dutchman start his Old Trafford career very well with a goal against Wigan, we have also witnessed him lack positional sense and make rash decisions with the Capital One Cup game against Chelsea being a particularly bad night for the former Vitesse man – yet today he looked as though there was real potential in his game.
Buttner looked comfortable on the ball and added a real attacking dimension to United’s game. He showed pace, strength and good delivery.
Defensively he looked solid – going in to every tackle fully committed and staying on his feet when necessary.
I am not saying he will be our long term left back, but if he performs like this every time he gets an opportunity, he will give Sir Alex a serious selection headache… in a good way!
Do you agree that Buttner played well, or could it be that Sunderland were really poor?
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