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Today we found Rooney’s best position.
United look lost without Rooney.
No Rooney or Fellaini = pace, 4 goals, 2 headers, effective set pieces. It really isn’t rocket science.
But promising Rooney will play next week regardless of form? Saying he’s not a midfielder but then allowing him to drop so deep last game Jacques Cousteau would be concerned?
Maybe Allardici could have managed Real after all.
David P (Manc abroad)
PS Rob Beasley’s book excerpts made me throw up in my mouth a little .
We actually played well!
Words cannot describe how happy that match made me. For the first time in longer than I can remember, we actually played brilliantly and looked like a bloody good team in the process.
Four brilliantly taken goals, a well-balanced and well-coordinated team, and every player being used in their best position; it was like a dream. I was worried Mata was on a hiding to nothing, with any less than a top notch performance being used as evidence why Rooney should be restored to the team; thankfully, he was outstanding and took his chance with both hands. Rashford was excellent again and Blind’s corners were worlds better than anything from Rooney.
After the Northampton game, I wanted to see a midfield of Schneiderlin, Herrera and Pogba – two out of three ain’t bad. And instantly Pogba looked so much better, both in his preferred role and with Herrera next to him instead of Fellaini. To top it off, a goal from the captain, three goals from set pieces and a brilliant cohesive team performance.
Everything about today was down to Rooney’s absence. His omission from the starting eleven freed everyone else up to be used in the right way, and the replacements all performed really bloody well. It wasn’t perfect but this – unquestionably this – is the future of Manchester United; he is no longer capable or relevant enough to keep any if his alternatives out, and he should be ushered out of the first team picture as soon as possible.
Leicester didn’t even play that badly and were looking like scoring until our first went in. We just finally showed some killer instinct and took our chances when they came. Credit to Gray as well for scoring the best goal of the game – what a stunning strike. On this limited evidence, I would be starting him instead of Albrighton if I was Claudio. I am just buzzing from that game, the perfect tonic for an otherwise rubbish couple of weeks.
That is a United worth watching. Solid in defense, patient and probing in attack, crisp in passing, quick on the counter, clear in intent.
That is a United that should have been 3-0 up by 30 minutes. They were by 40. And 4-0 by the end of the first half.
That is a United that was a proper team and not just a collection of players. Everyone knew what they had to do and did it well.
That is a United without Rooney.
Prashanth (whatever happens in the 2nd half I’m happy) Barcelona
42 minutes in and I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
Trying not to think of the 5-3!
There are three things that even an off form Rooney brings the team: decent and consistent set piece delivery, he always shows for the ball to ease pressure off team mates and he draws opponents to make space for others because he can be a danger if not attended. United have come to rely on him for these things, and as such they’ve shackled him. Occasionally we see flashes of the old Rooney but it feels inhibited, like he’s not currently free to be the player who scored that breakaway goal with Ronaldo or lashed in that ridiculous volley from a loose ball after (IIRC) a corner.
Today, Blind stepped in with some peach corners (helped by people actually finishing them off for a change), while Ibrahimovic was always available for an out and this drew opponents to leave spaces.
At last maybe we can move on from relying on Rooney for these things, and maybe he can get on with focusing on the rest of his game. It’s been ludicrous to suggest he’s been the problem with the team while simultaneously carrying and dragging it forwards for years and filling player gaps all over the place. And of course this is just one game (the other without him was a complete shambles). His direct replacement Mata was neat but little more (well taken goal aside). But this will hopefully free Rooney from other shackling responsibilities and either allow or force him to get his true essence back: a driving whirling dervish, not some tame playmaker. Then he can deserve his place.
And surely we can all agree this would be good thing.
That boy Rashford is incredible though, such energy. He really does deserve all the big talk.
All hail Theo
There’s a million things that will be said about Arsenal about yesterday (and a cracking day all round in the Premier League, actually) but I really hope Theo Walcott gets deserved praise.
I remember a few years back a shocking first half he had versus Spurs. His touch, willing, desire, it was all off. We were 2-0 down quickly and the crowd were on the players backs, particularly his. He turned it round to be fair, scored twice in the second half. But really, he’s someone that’s shied away often and not really taken any responsibility.
Yesterday, and every week to be fair, he’s played like a man who knows this is his last chance. I’ve always believed he’s a composed finisher, but he has rarely offered much else. But I now believe his pre season videos about his new found strength are the truth. He looks hungry to win his England place back, he’s chasing every ball, making tackles, intelligent runs and passes. It’s like we’ve bought a new player.
I think yesterday was his best ever first half for Arsenal and I’m absolutely delighted for him. I hope he keeps it up.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex
Who is that number 14 playing for Arsenal and what has he done with Theo Walcott?
Adonis (Kante must hate playing Arsenal) Stevenson, AFC
Well, I must say that’s one of the best Arsenal performances I’ve seen for a long time. We all liked our performance against ManYoo the other season but this was just pure quality throughout the team. Gritty tackling, superb closing down and counter attacking and finishing!
Chelsea have normally had one over on us for being more gritty (or where Costa is concerned, winding us up (beautiful to see that work the other way!)).
As a Gooner I can not normally feel relaxed no matter how far in the lead we are but this performance was brilliant and I thought we were home and dry.
Again, although the whole team were on the same par, well done Theo, you have come of age!
For those initially thinking the Manc clubs and Liverpool (cracking results, yes) were on a different level to Arsenal…….. think again!
Poor from Conte
We really got to talk about Conte’s substitutions and game management. If you’re losing 3-0 in the first half of the first leg of a knock-out game, it is understandable when you bring in a defender to keep the score down and see whether you can reverse or match the score in the second leg.
If you’re losing 3-0 to your local rivals in the first half of a one-off local derby league game, you don’t end the game with 5 defenders and 2 defensive midfielders.
Franklin, (Eden played like the Hazard of last season – see what I did there?), CFC, Lagos
I know you don’t want to constantly retread old ground, but how is there not at least a nod to just how poor Hazard looked yesterday in your 16 conclusions, coupled with his now expected complete disregard for the necessities of defending?
What struck me more from that game was how much more blame should be apportioned at those Chelsea players, than what is currently chucked at Mourinho. Players seem to stroll around the pitch, no collective fight, and Hazard literally strolling around, and never ever tracking back. In my humble opinion, Hazard is a terribly overrated player with an inflated ego – his actual moments of quality are few and far between, and even those barely qualify as looking like a decent player playing above their norm, rather than a world class player doing what you expect.
I might be being harsh here, but it winds me up no end when you see players who clearly think they are at a Ronaldo or Messi level (when they are no way near) and believe they are beyond basics such as effort for the team!
(MC – I felt that not mentioning him at all was the perfect representation of how anonymous he was.)
More Chelsea thoughts
1. Cahill/Ivanovic on a football pitch borders on suicide, Cahill+Ivanovic = Suicide Squad.
2. I am troubled about whether it is Chelsea’s pathetic showing or the opponent’s greatness that shows the result, from the pool game. I’m going 60-40 in favor of Chelsea being shit.
3. Refer point 1, for the primary reason why we have 1 point from our last 3 games. From here on, I’ve decided not to spend time/energy to talk about those two as the evidence is too damning.
4. Now, some blame on Thibaut Cortuois. Not for the goals but in general for lacking command of his technical area. He has been poor in that for long. And I want him dropped for a few games. There is no communication between goalie and defenders. Its atrocious.
5. The trouble as a Chelsea fan is, we’re used to decades of bullying Arsenal that we fail to recognize how potent they can be must we get too cocky. The same goes for players also. Today the players thought they could turn up and get a win (credit to them last season they did despite being poor). That doesnt work.
6. Kante had a poor game. How much of it was the spillover from his pathetic team mates over the last few games? How much of it was his fault? I’ll never know.
7. Now criticism on the manager. I like Conte, want him to succeed. But if he cannot understand that our back line is incapable of high line or passing from the back, I dont know how many more thrashings will make him believe so. Just boot the ball out long and press Arsenal would’ve salvaged a better game. Perhaps Conte knows better. I’m just another keyboard warrior.
8. I thought Arsene Wenger got his team right. I would not have worried if he played Giroud, but if not it meant a fluid front 4 which could trouble given our problems at the back. Arsene tactically got that right and we played into his hands.
9 Some credit to his players also, who pressed well and showed greater hunger and motivation to win the game.
10. I dont expect Chelsea to challenge for the title. A top 4 would be great, and after the last 3 results I’m also not going to jump on to a negative bandwagon. Did I expect Conte to win 10 games in a row? No. Did I expect some painful learning about his own players and the league given our transfer window idiocy? Yes.
11. Dont write Chelsea off. Not yet. Every team will struggle at some point. Conte will know about his players, mentality wise, ability wise. If he is as good as I think he is, he will find the solution till we get our squad right.
12. The thing with Arsenal is, I see a good back line and potentially a good midfield. I just dont know whether they have it in their minds to win the title. They’ve beaten us thrice in the last 7 years, and this is the first time they looked most potent to me (other two times were just a case of jokers managing Chelsea). They’ll finish top 4, but a title challenge – I dont know.
Aravind, Chelsea Fan.
Some Liverpool conclusions
*A lot of people made the understandable point that Liverpool needed to follow up wins against the big sides with victory over the “smaller” teams. Hopefully, they can press on now.
*A few weeks back, someone entered a post asking why Milner couldn’t become s good left back? Now I’m not saying he’s perfect but what he does do is provide a solid attacking threat. Constantly got down the line and harassed Hull defenders. Not a bad penalty taker.
*Lallana is a joy to watch at the moment. A well taken goal and a few assists don’t tell the whole story. His consistent running and creating of space is valuable for Mane and co. He looks to be comfortable in his role. It’s amazing to see the impact happiness can have on a player. Witness the fitness indeed.
*The attacking threat of Liverpool means that they are not overly reliant on one player. Space is created through movement off the ball and high pressing but everyone knows their role, Sturridge included.
*Karius is a handsome b*stard.
*The only downside was the goal conceded. It’s frustrating but I do think with Karius in goals and with the back 4 of Clyne, Matip, Lovren & Milner this will settle down.
* This could be the end of Sakho. Klopp is not impressed. I’ve been a big fan and have defended him on occasion but that’s going too far. In January we will more than likely be saying au revoir to him.
*Danny Mills on the BBC is just a waste of time. It’s a shocking panel( I’m looking at you Crooks) but his statement of “they’ll come unstuck against the big teams.” Who are these teams Danny? Just the Manchester 2? Having beaten Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester and drawn with Spurs, I am slightly confused. Are these not big teams?
*Sunderland are going to be relegated I believe. To be winning a game like that at home and to lose to a last minute goal summarises their season.
*Sanchez is a joy to watch. What a finish. Cahill looks less and less reliable. 2 high profile mistakes in a week. Need Terry back ASAP.
* You’ve alluded to it in your 16 conclusions but Rooney must know his time is up. Utd looked quicker and more cohesive without him. Personally, I like when he plays because Utd suffer but it’s obvious to everyone know except the Sky commentators who keep making excuses for him!?
*Obvious enough, but good god, how brilliant is Aguero? Superlatives aside, he is the complete striker.
*if Lukaku is struggling, Everton will struggle.
Miguel Sanchez, LFC, Eire. (Coutinho does score lovely goals)
I am going to whisper this quietly, but Liverpool are quite good.
The most important thing is the extent of our threat; 24 goals scored by 10 different players in the opening 6 games. Can any other team boast a more extensive range of threatening attacking options? Man City’s first choice front 4 is obviously better than ours but our depth is probably the best it’s been since I’ve watched the game and maybe the best in the league. Origi, Sturridge and Ings could all theoretically have come into that starting XI and been dangerous and contributed. For Hull today it must’ve been tough to see Coutinho withdrawn only for Sturridge to be coming on. It’s not really what you hope for after nearly an hour of play a man down.
Even Klavan deputised ably today for Lovren. So all around there’s some excellent feelings right now.
I wish we had played Man Utd a week ago, it’s sad that Mourinho might’ve just discovered a far more threatening XI than the dross he’s been putting out up until now. Or maybe he’ll do an LVG and ignore the evidence and revert to the previous nonsense despite winning today at a canter. Very excited for next week!
Terrible nickname; excellent left-back
For all the talk in recent weeks about certain liverpool players winning over their supporters wether it’s lallana, Henderson (who received a standing ovation) or Lovren all of whom have been excellent since klopp arrival special mention needs to go to James milner or Millie (any nickname that makes James milner sound like a rapper is fine by me) pre klopp and even during the early part of his tenure milner was used as the way liverpool were heading. Paying big wages and being Guaranteed starting birth in position he hadn’t played consistently for five years as well as the vice captaincy, he ended his first season at liverpool with seven goals and 14 assists the majority from corners, what England would have killed for just a decent corner at euro 2016.
And then at the start of this season he has been played as a make shift left back doing a job because jurgen didn’t buy a single left back and only recognised left back is a accident waiting to happen, yet so far it has been a masterstroke. Particularly impressive have been his vision and attacking positions his assist to firminio’s opening goal against Leicester is the perfect example of this.
Kudos goes to jurgen for refusing to trust the players at his disposal rather than bow to excessive fees and players who according to klopp standards didn’t seem committed to the club.
But the greatest praise goes to milner, at a time when we debate and scrutinies players adapting to new positions for the sake of their career, here is a much derided player the personification of a meat and chips player, mocked for his nugmet from probably the greatest of all time, he’s now flourishing in a role completely alien to him.
David (for 45 minutes was as good as I’ve seen since arsenal in 2014) Burzio
How are Spurs only fifth favourites?
I was a bit surprised (as a Spurs fan) checking the odds for the Premier League win this morning. How are Spurs 5th favourites at 16? With Liverpool at 5.5 and Man U and Arse both at 9? We finished 3rd in the league last season but were the only team pushing Leicester for the title, we kept all the players we wanted to keep, we strengthened in key positions, we are now second and unbeaten with the best defence in the league and Son has all of sudden started playing like Ronaldo. Am I missing something?
Jonathan (I take that all back if we get tonked by Man City next week) Gold Coast
Swansea v Man City was fun
Some conclusions from an entertaining match at the Liberty Stadium:
*To coin a phrase, fortune favors the bold, and it favored Swansea for a little over an hour. In the EFL Cup midweek, they had played a conservative 4-5-1. Here they played 4-5-1 as well, but instead pressed high again and again. At times it looked like kamikaze football, but Man City were thrown off their game, and although they might have had five, they only got one. Bravo to the Swans.
*The penalty to Mike van der Hoorn was soft, but you can see why Neal Swarbrick gave it. More troublingly, van der Hoorn didn’t appear an upgrade on Federico Fernandez. Several times he charged out ineffectively, and although he’s stronger than Fernandez, he’s significantly slower. But it’s only one game.
*For Wayne Routledge, though, it was one of many games. I assume he’s a good human being, and likes kittens and puppies and fluffy bunnies, but he’s a Championship level player. Modou Barrow may be raw, but he has to start ahead of Routledge. So does Jefferson Montero.
*Putting Gylfi Sigurdsson on the left of a five-man midfield is pretty counter-intuitive, and although he got into the middle to aid the attack at times, when it was over on the right he rarely contributed, and it made a difference.
*Ilkay Gundogan doesn’t look up to speed yet, and it’s telling that as soon as Man City went ahead in the second half, he was substituted. Pep might consider leaving him on the bench against Spurs next weekend.
*It’s OK if Man City’s attack is off its best, because they have so many good players that one is likely to do the job eventually. But if their defence is off, it’s comedy time. All four members of the back line were made to look foolish at various times by a not particularly cohesive Swansea attack. They’re vulnerable, and Liverpool, Spurs, and Chelsea might make life very difficult for them.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
We may as well just give City the title and get the Pep love in done with. Against Man Utd there were some questionable decisions in their favour, which should have seen them not win, or at least not as comfortably. Against Swansea, Fer Fernandinho clearly obstructs Ven Der Hoorn. He makes no attempt at the ball, just throws his arm, hip and shoulder into the player and knocks him off his stride. Van Der Hoorn by virtue of being much taller than De Bruyne obstructed him across the face. Farce of decision, farce of a match again.
Pete F, Eire.