Manchester United have gone eight points clear at the top of the table after a comfortable-if-laboured win over Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford. A controversial penalty from Wayne Rooney and a long range strike from Paul Scholes were enough as Sir Alex’s men piled the pressure on rivals City who lost to Arsenal later in the day.
And this is why the game needs a DRS system
The chorus for video technology to be introduced in the game has reached a new high this week. First at Stamford Bridge, Wigan were denied what could be a decisive point with some shocking refereeing decisions. Branislav Ivanovic who knocked in the first goal was at least two yards offside when he scored and as for the second, Juan Mata was a shade offside when the ball deflected off him for the second goal.
The trend continued today as Ashley Young was more than slightly offside when he fell down like a house of cards under very minimal contact from Shaun Derry. How the assistant on the far side - who was incidentally looking right at Young - failed to spot the offside is beyond belief and Lee Mason pointed to the spot before sending off Derry. Wayne Rooney scored from the resulting penalty but on the sideline, Mark Hughes was absolutely fuming at fourth official Andre Marriner. Hughes had every right to do so. If not for the sending off, the R’s might very well have gained something for they battled very well for the rest of the game despite playing with just ten men.
The demand for a DRS system is fast approaching a zenith. What started off as an off-topic discussion has turned into a nightmare for FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Ever since the gaffe during the World Cup match between England and Germany, the voices have only gotten louder and louder. After this week, expect a press release from FIFA claiming “lack of reliant technology”/”trials underway”/[insert excuse here] reasons.
Sparky’s tactics were a failure
During a press conference earlier this week, Sparky had this to say about the United trip:
“You can’t go to Manchester United in fear. They’ll sense that and they’ll come at you...we have to believe in our attack and take the game positively.”
And what did he do? He sent out the most negative team he could think of.
He took of their best attacker (yes I know Cisse’s better but he’s suspended) and replaced him with a man who’s scored 2 goals in 17 PL games this season. Jay Bothroyd has often been described as “too good for the Championship” but after what can only be described yet another poor performance, he seems “not good enough” for the Premier League. Maybe he’d be better of playing in Scotland then.
Joey Barton missed out due to disciplinary reasons as another yellow card (his 10th) would’ve rendered him suspended for the next two games. He was replaced by Akos Buszaky as QPR started off with a 4-3-3 with the mercurial Taraabt at the tip of the midfield trident which also included Samba Diakité. It didn’t work.
QPR were pushed back by wave after wave of United attack. Bothroyd was left all alone higher up the pitch as even Taraabt helped out in defence. Their almost one-dimensional attack play - get the ball forwards for Bothroyd to hold up - failed spectacularly as United’s defence were more than comfortable with the Englishman. Most of the time they were sitting too deep to even start a successful counter attack.
Eat your heart out Vieira
Manchester City’s “footballing development executive” had been at his mouthy best the past week, claiming that United bringing Scholes out of retirement smacked of desperation. And once again, Scholes showed exactly why he was brought out of retirement with a virtuoso performance from midfield.
After dominating proceedings in the first half, The Ginger One finished off the day with a spectacular goal from twenty yards out, lashing in the eventual winner into the bottom left corner of the net after a half cleared corner. The result is United’s 12th consecutive win - they’ve now taken 34 points from a possible 36 since Scholes has returned to the team and he has been the catalyst for that fine run. In the first half alone, Scholes and Carrick had 157 passes between them - 39 more than what the entire QPR team had managed. Scholes’s last four goals have all come against London teams - 2 against Fulham and 1 each against West Ham United and now QPR.
Somewhere in Manchester, Vieira’s wishing he’d never opened his mouth.
Evra’s returning to being a defender
The reverse fixture in November at Loftus Road was probably Evra’s nadir in form. Time and again, he was exposed by the most plebian of wingers - Jamie Mackie. Evra’s been lambasted all over the ‘net for his play this season but credit to the Frenchman as he seems to be remembering how to defend.
Over the past month or so, Evra’s been less adventurous, has stayed back for most of the game and most importantly, seems to have recollected how to make a tackle. Yes, he was beaten once or twice by Mackie today, but for a majority of the game, he was flawless. He tracked back well, added some bite to the defence while all the time contributing to the attack as well. For the time being at least, he seems to be recovering his best form as United well and truly hit squeaky bum time.
Welbeck’s great but I’d still have Hernandez
Danny Welbeck’s been a revelation this season. Despite not scoring by the bucket load, the lad has helped United’s play massively. He’s excellent at holding the ball up, drawing others in and his movement at times is very good as well. Yet, the last few results illustrated exactly why Hernàndez should be preferred ahead of him.
Despite Welbeck’s natural ability he still lacks a few dimensions to his game. Unlike the Mexican, he’s not an out and out striker. He likes the ball played to him rather than while on the run and in the box, he’s far from prolific. At times, he’s been set free one-on-one and he’s failed to sufficiently test the goalkeeper. And this is where Chicharito thrives. He is a livewire in the final third and is highly unpredictable with his constant movement, awareness and finishing ability. Sure his ball control’s terrible, he’s born offside and he fades out at times but the way he pushes up the opposition back-line is vital to United - it creates space for Carrick, Scholes and Rooney to play the ball into.
Despite spending far less time on the pitch, Hernàndez still has more goals and the same number of assists as Welbeck. Statistically, Hernàndez is the better finisher as well, boasting a much better shots-on-goal ratio and better conversion accuracy. The Mexican might very well have knocked in a couple had he played today, given the amount of chances United created today.
Player Ratings :
MAN : de Gea 7 Rafael 7.5 (Jones 5) Ferdinand 7 Evans 8 Evra 7 Valencia 7 Carrick 7 Scholes 9 (Cleverley 6.5) Young 6 (Giggs 6) Rooney 7.5 Welbeck 6
QPR : Kenny 5 Onouha 5 Hill 6 Ferdinand 6 Taiwo 6.5 Derry 3 Diakité 5 (Wright-Philips 4) Buszaky 5 Taraabt (Smith 4) 6 Mackie 6 Bothroyd 4 (DJ Campbell 4)
Man of the Match : Paul Scholes
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