- Beating Sunderland and Wolfsburg
- Going Top of the League
- News and results round-up
Having won at Southampton and beaten Ipswich, we were looking forward to the visit of bottom club Sunderland as with the way the team was playing we knew there was a very good chance of gaining another three points in the quest of staying close to the top of the table.
There were a few grumblings when the starting eleven were announced as some thought that Van Gaal was being too defensive against a poor side, at home as well. It seemed though that the manager also had the midweek game against Wolfsburg in mind, and there was still a lot of attacking options on the pitch.
Although it took till just one minute before half-time to take the lead, United were pretty much in control for the entire half. The goal came from a wonderful Blind pass to Mata, who knocked the ball sideways where Memphis was waiting to tap-in his first league goal for United. When Rooney fumbled the ball over the line from a Martial assist just after the second half started to double United’s lead, the game was truly over as a contest, and only a couple of good saves by Pantillimon kept the score down. Towards the end, Juan Mata made it 3-0 after some good work on the wing by Ashley Young.
There were some very good performances out there on Saturday. Anthony Martial had another excellent outing even if he didn’t score as his pace and ball control was causing havoc in the Sunderland rearguard. Wayne Rooney seemed a bit better than he has been lately, and has now scored as many goals as Denis Law in the league (just two behind him in the total list). The back four looked solid again, though that’s not saying much as Sunderland are one of the poorest sides we’ve seen play at Old Trafford lately (yes, even worse than L’pool were) . It was also another clean sheet for them and David de Gea.
What made this victory matter more is that early season pace-setters Manchester City had lost again, this time 4-1 at Tottenham. That meant that United climbed to the top of the table for the first time in a couple of years. Though we probably won’t be there at the end of the season, it’s really nice to see the team challenging again.
On Wednesday evening it was the turn of German runners-up Wolfsburg to visit Old Trafford for United’s second game in the Champions’ League group stage. Things didn’t start well as after only four minutes Caligiuri beat the offside trap (with help from Antonio Valencia) and put Wolfsburg ahead. Thankfully there was no panic in the side, and United were by far the better side until half-time, at which time the score was 1-1 thanks to a Mata penalty.
United stayed on top when the second half started, and didn’t take long for them to go ahead as ‘Mike’ Smalling kept his calm when he was put through on goal by a delightful back heel flick from Juan Mata. A flick so lovely that it seemed to have been filled with the Spaniard’s hugs. Though Wolfsburg pressed for an equaliser in the last twenty minutes, mainly after Phil Jones had replaced Schweinsteiger to defend the lead, they couldn’t find a way through, and the final whistle brought huge sighs of relief. With this win and CSKA Moscow’s win at home to PSV, all four teams are now on three points after two games played.
It’s worth noting that Anthony Martial had another very good game, as did scorers Smalling and Mata (though you wouldn’t know it listening to Van Gaal after the game). Others, including Valencia and Captain Rooney have to step up to show that they are worth a place in the team.
This win, coupled with City’s in Monchengladbach on the same evening will also be seen as a good one for English football (though many won’t admit it) as their coefficients aren’t looking as good as they used to these days, especially after both Arsenal and Chelsea lost their games against Olympiakos and Porto respectively on Tuesday.
In the Premier League, Arsenal gave Leicester their first defeat of the season when they beat them 5-2; L’pool got back on track by winning 3-2 at home to Sherwood’s Villa; Mourinho blamed everyone else but himself again as his Chelsea side saved a point by coming back from two down to draw 2-2 at Newcastle; Southampton recovered from last week’s defeat to United by winning 3-1 at home to Swansea; West Ham failed to win at home again when they drew 2-2 with Norwich; Stoke climbed out of the bottom three with their first win, 2-1 at home to Bournemouth; and Pardew’s Palace won 1-0 at Watford.
In other football news, the net is closing tighter on Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s ethics committee investigate a £1.3m payment he made to UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011 (amongst other things). This was around the time that Platini had said that he wouldn’t be contesting FIFA’s presidency elections, though Blatter and Platini are saying it’s for some work Platini had done NINE YEARS earlier. Yeah, right.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored two for Real Madrid in the Champions League, meaning he’s hit the 500 goal-mark of his career (118 of which he scored for United), also equaling Raul’s club records for goals scored in Europe (66), and total (323).
Back to United, there’s a new book out about former player Mick ‘Mike’ Duxbury, who played nearly 400 games for us, and won two FA Cups while at the club. Copies can be bought from here.
We only have one game coming up in the next two weeks, and that’s this Sunday’s clash at Arsenal (4pm UK time). Though it won’t be easy, it would be great to get a win and stay top of the league just in time for another international break… COME ON UNITED!!!