When you face a team managed by Sam Allardyce you know you are in for a physical battle – and only those who give blood, sweat and tears will come out victorious.
Having already visited Upton Park once this season in the FA cup which took a dramatic last minute Van Persie strike to secure a draw, nobody was naive enough to think this game would be a walk over – despite West Ham sitting not too far above the relegation zone.
West Ham have some real muscle in their side with players like Collins, Carrol, Demel and Diame who never shy away from a tackle and compete for every aerial ball. It was down to Vidic, Ferdinand and Jones to match these guys – and to an extent our defense stood their ground.
Away from the battle, some nice football was played with Shinji Kagawa acting as a playmaker and putting in a man of the match performance.
Kagawa did not dominate or control the game – and he spent large spells of play closing down West Ham’s defenders – however in a United side which lacked inspiration, the Japanese star produced two moments of real magic – both of which lead to goals.
The first was latching onto a pass from Van Persie, shimming into the box, side stepping a challenge and laying the ball across for Valencia to score from close range.
The second was with fifteen minutes to go as United trailed 2-1. Kagawa picked up the ball outside of the box, turn and unleashed a curling effort which beat Jaaskelainen, only to hit the inside of the post, bounce across the line to hit the other post, before Van Persie put the rebound into the back of the net.
When Kagawa was signed in the summer, both Sir Alex and Jurgen Klopp (his former manager at Dortmund) said United will see the best from Kagawa in the 2013/14 season .
We can all appreciate it takes time for a young man to settle into a foreign land, learn the language, get used to the lifestyle and make somewhere his home without feeling homesick. On the pitch it takes time to adapt to the physical aspect of English football as well as the high tempo.
If tonight was a glimpse of what we can expect, then we should all be very excited.
Twice behind, United pulled the game back for it to finish 2-2.
Not vintage United – but it is another point closer to the title.
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