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Dejavu!

Posted by united4ever2009 on April 18, 2010

Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United

Their body language said it all. They thumped the ground. They looked to the skies. There is nothing in football as brutal as the stoppage-time winner and at the final whistle the pitch was littered with players on their hands and knees: exasperated, broken, disbelieving. All of them wore blue shirts.

The game had waited a long time for some drama and when it finally arrived it was in the 93rd minute, with the referee Martin Atkinson already checking his watch. For one so small, Paul Scholes has always been magnificent at the art of heading a football. This was classic Scholes: the perfectly timed run, the arched jump, the twisting of the neck muscles and then, finally, that familiar sunrise of a smile.

Was this the moment the title race took another late twist? At the final whistle no one here could truly know the answer to that question, but Gary Neville was running half the pitch towards the away end, pulling deliriously at the badge on his shirt. Wayne Rooney was roaring. These were scenes of wild jubilation. They ran together, cavorting, embracing, with Sir Alex Ferguson doing that curious little war-dance on the touchline. It was reminiscent of that centre-circle dash in Moscow two years ago.

It had been a poor game, pockmarked with mistakes, as these matches often are, but United were marginally the better team. City looked tentative at times and they might have to be more adventurous in their last four games if they are to finish in fourth position and reach the Champions League qualifiers. Kirk Bradley, the 26-year-old fan, who has a tattoo commemorating City as the “2010-11 Champions League winners” might regret that decision one day.

Perhaps they might have penetrated the United defence more had they exploited Craig Bellamy’s pace against Gary Neville. Or maybe the credit should go to the visiting defenders. Carlos Tevez buzzed around and Emmanuel Adebayor toiled away. But the three did not combine as they have recently against lesser opposition. Bellamy, in particular, had a disappointing game, although, in mitigation, it was a common theme for the front players from both sides. This was one of those games when, for long spells, the more effective players were tacklers such as Nigel de Jong and Darren Fletcher or defensive stoppers such as Vincent Kompany and Nemanja Vidic.

The Premier League is so fast these days it can be like watching ice hockey on grass at times. Scholes seemed to be the only player who realised that sometimes it can be of benefit to put your foot on the ball and slow everything down – pick out the pass, spread the play. Ryan Giggs, with a proud record of having featured in every Manchester derby since making his debut, also brought a measure of poise and Dimitar Berbatov did well when he came on but there was no doubting the identity of the best player: cometh the 93rd minute, cometh the little ginger man.

As a spectacle, however, there were too many attacking players, Rooney and Tevez included, who struggled to impose themselves. Perhaps Tevez was trying too hard. As for Rooney, he looked laboured throughout his 74 minutes on the pitch, not as sharp across the first few metres, perhaps only 80% fit. You can always tell when things aren’t going well for Rooney when he starts sniping at the referee and he was yapping away at Atkinson for most of the first half.

Atkinson was a strange choice given that he was the referee at the centre of the “Fergie Time” controversy when the teams met at Old Trafford in September. The original choice, Steve Bennett, was abroad, unable to fly back because of the Icelandic volcano eruption, and City had been sufficiently concerned about Atkinson’s switch from Stoke against Bolton that they tried to contact the Premier League referees’ chief, Mike Riley, to voice their misgivings on Friday afternoon. In other words, Ferguson is not the only practitioner in the art of trying to influence match officials. The biter had been bit – and you can only imagine the eruption from United’s manager if Atkinson had made a telling mistake in City’s favour.

As it was, Atkinson made a few errors here and there but generally got by without any major controversy and, ironically, his most obvious oversight was not booking Rooney after he had flicked out his leg to trip De Jong. The truth is it has been a bad season for the Premier League’s referees but, on this occasion, there was no sense of grievance about the dramatic, late and decisive goal.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Match Review | Leave a Comment »

The Manchester Derby!

Posted by united4ever2009 on April 16, 2010

The Critics Preview!

Manchester City and bitter enemies Manchester United meet at Eastlands on Saturday lunchtime in one of their most significant derby battles.

Roberto Mancini’s City are desperate to reinforce their hold on fourth place in the Premier League and they are aware a win would also inflict further damage on United’s title aspirations.

City are now the favourites to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, but they sit just one point above Tottenham in what promises to be an agonising conclusion to the season.

United occupy second position and trail leaders Chelsea by four points after a defeat to the Blues and a stalemate with Blackburn loosened Sir Alex Ferguson’s defending champions’ grip on the trophy.

In contract to their neighbours, City are hitting form at the perfect time of the season having won their last three matches and they have scored 14 goals in the process to build a degree of confidence.

Revenge

To add to the spice, the home side are out for revenge after they felt they were denied at least a point by refereeing inconsistency in September’s injury-time defeat at Old Trafford, while they were also knocked out of the Carling Cup semi-finals by United.

Carlos Tevez will start against former club United and the Argentina star will want to continue a rich vein of form which has seen him score six goals in his last three matches.

Wayne Bridge has a chance of featuring as he has recovered from a hernia operation which caused him to miss five matches.

The full-back is one of four players who are in line to return with Stephen Ireland (ankle) and Patrick Vieira (knee) on the mend following injuries while Pablo Zabaleta is free from suspension.

Ferguson has confirmed that striker Wayne Rooney is in contention to return from the ankle complaint which forced him to miss the draw with Blackburn after aggravating the problem against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

United are also boosted by the news that England midfielder Owen Hargreaves is set to be included for the City game, giving him the chance to make his first senior appearance in almost 20 months after a series of knee operations.

Possible Starting XIs

Manchester City: Given, Onuoha, Kompany, Toure, Garrido, A Johnson, De Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Fletcher, Giggs, Nani, Berbatov.

Match Facts:

  • The last three Premier League Manchester derbies at Eastlands have ended 1-0: once in City’s favour and twice in United’s.
  • Ryan Giggs has appeared in all 28 league Manchester derbies since his first league start came against City in May 1991.
  • No current Manchester City player has scored more than twice in Premier League Manchester derbie.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored in his last three consecutive Premier League appearances, bagging a total of five goals.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Match Preview | Leave a Comment »

ManUtd vs. Chelsea: Some Interesting Facts

Posted by unitedfanatic on April 1, 2010

A disappointing performance in Munich and an injury to our best player this season later, it is important for the players to put it behind them and look ahead to the remaining two season defining games, if I may add for cliche’ lovers, of the 3 games in 7 days.

Rooney is set to miss this one and its a shame he has to sit out these big games after such a sizzling run of form.

Here’s a set of interesting facts ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Old Trafford.

  • Sir Alex Ferguson has won only one and lost five (including Community Shield on penalties) of his six meetings with Carlo Ancelotti.
  • Man Utd have won three and lost none of their last four home games against Chelsea.
  • The Blues have only scored one goal in their last four visits to Old Trafford.
  • Man Utd have won 10 and drawn one of the 11 games that Rooney has not played for them in the Premier League since the start of 2008-09.
  • Man Utd have only conceded two goals in their last 11 Premier League matches at Old Trafford – both were headers.
  • Since Darren Bent scored for Sunderland in October, Man Utd have gone 19 hours and 23 minutes at Old Trafford without conceding from a shot; all four goals shipped since have been headers.
  • Didier Drogba has failed to score in eight Premier League appearances against Man Utd.
  • Nicolas Anelka scored in each of his first four Premier League starts against Man Utd, but has netted just one in his last eight starts versus the Red Devils.
  • Frank Lampard has scored eight goals in the last four Premier League games that Didier Drogba has missed
  • Dimitar Berbatov has scored eight goals in his last nine Premier League starts for Manchester United.

Posted in English Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Noisy trophyless neighbours do United a favour

Posted by unitedfanatic on February 27, 2010

Lets face it. United haven’t got unwanted neighbours after all. They provide us with so many opportunities to laugh at them as well as laugh with them that its kind of good to have the noisy neighbours that we have.

On numerous occasions, they have demonstrated their mentality (Small club??), which is the obvious thing someone does when they are screaming for being in the spotlight and cannot stand someone else (Us!) having it. Welcome to Manchester was a case in point.

They mocked the fans’ banner and said they were out to take it down. Only to be knocked out of their only remaining options – the league cup and the FA cup.

They have given us reasons to believe that rich unity of play in the team is what matters, not a rich owner. Knocked out of the Carling Cup and the league game at OT in the injury time on both occasions demonstrated on which side of Manchester the better “team” lies.

Yet, they have helped us in our quest for the title by doing the double over Chelsea winning 2-1 at home, and 4-2 away.

Many thanks. 34 years and still counting!!

Posted in English Premier League, Rivals | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Injury-hit United thrash West Ham

Posted by united4ever2009 on December 7, 2009

United had to play with a make-shift defence due to injuries to Ferdinand and Evans, while Vidic was suffering from flu. Gary Neville and Wes Brown suffered injuries compounding United’s problems. But United had no problem in brushing off West Ham in a convinving 4-0 win that will  surely galvanise United especially after Man City beat Chelsea 2-1 to reduce the gap at the top to 2 points between United and Chelsea.

The game was pretty even in the first half but United had more of the possession. United made the crucial break when Scholes struck a powerful left foot shoot past Green after superbly controlling with his chest. United went into the break leading at 1-0. Gary Neville had to be substituted due to a groin problem. He was replaced by Carrick in the defence. West Ham stepped up the pressure in the second half, but United hit the Hammers on the break and a superb exchange of passes between Rooney and Giggs, who setup Gibson to drive an unstoppable strike into the net. Shortly after United netted their third after Anderson low cross into the six yard box was met by Valencia at the far post to score his 5th goal of the campaign. The game was all but over for the Hammers. Seconds later, Rooney got his name on the scoreboard when Valencia crossed into the path of Rooney who greatly obliged. It was 4-0 to United and one of their most convincing performances at Upton Park in recent years. United have injury problems to worry about as they face Wolfsburg in the last round of CL matches.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Match Comments, Match Review, Wayne Rooney | Leave a Comment »

United back-off from Ljajic deal

Posted by united4ever2009 on December 4, 2009

United have decided not to take up the option to sign Partizan Belgrade midfielder Adem Ljajic.

A report from the club’s official website states


The 18-year-old Serbian attacking midfielder had been lined up for a potential move to Old Trafford next year.

However, with a wealth of top young talent in that position already at the club, United have announced that the initial interest in Ljajic will not be followed up.

A club spokesman told ManUtd.com: “We had an option to buy the player but, having closely monitored his development over past 12 months, and taken into the consideration the young players emerging through the ranks, we have chosen not to pursue the transfer.”

There are interesting theories to why United chose to walk away from the deal. United either wanted to free some funds so they could spend it for a bigger player in January transfer window or they felt that Ljajic’s progress wasn’t good enough to go ahead with the deal. It would be interesting to note Fergie’s version on this.  On the other hand, one must feel sorry for the lad. His dream of playing for United have been shattered. Ljajic, interesting has been nicknamed ‘Little Kaka’. United apparently had a ‘get-out’ clause in the deal. In my opinion, there could be some sort of financial crisis at the club. One wonders what United do in the January Transfer window.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United, Youth | Leave a Comment »

Super Sunday: Trip to Anfield

Posted by united4ever2009 on October 25, 2009

The stage is set for the big battle on Super Sunday at Anfield. It is arguably the most anticipated fixture of the season so far. Sir Alex’s men visit Anfield with aim of crushing Liverpool’s title hopes.  Liverpool are in their worst form since 22 years. United, on the other have been producing good results despite their patchy performances in recent weeks. There couldn’t be a better time for United to play Liverpool. But United have to be aware not to get complacent as they did last season at Old Trafford against Liverpool. A win for United could mean end of Liverpool’s title hopes.United have most of their personnel back albeit Rooney being a major doubt due to a calf strain. Liverpool have injury problems of  their own with Gerrard and Torres being doubtful for the clash.

Owen’s return to Anfield

All eyes will be on Michael Owen and the reception he gets at Anfield. Sir Alex has hinted Owen might start if Rooney doesn’t play the game. “Michael’s got a chance [of starting],” said Sir Alex on Friday.

“When he came on against CSKA he did very well. His movement really started to trouble his opponents. I was pleased with that contribution, even though it was only 30 minutes.

“He has been doing very well and has been an excellent professional for us.”

It’s that professionalism plus his wealth of big-match experience that should see Owen through Sunday’s acid test – the first time he’s faced his former supporters in the colours of their arch-rivals.

“He had some great years at Liverpool, so it’s difficult to say what reception he’ll get,” pondered the boss.

Mid-field is the key

The midfield is the key for United. Sir Alex is spoilt for choice in the midfield. Fletcher and Scholes/Carrick are expected to start in the central midfield. Giggs and Valencia have been superb so far and they will try to exploit the full backs of Liverpool to the maximum extent. Sir Alex could either go with the formation he usually adopts in the CL or he could go with the traditional 4-4-2.  If Gerrard and Torres do play, Vidic and Ferdinand will have to be at their best and any mistake could prove fatal.

Possible starting Line-ups:

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Agger, Mascherano, Benayoun, Lucas, Kuyt, Babel, Torres.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Giggs, Scholes, Anderson, Valencia, Owen, Berbatov.

Posted in English Premier League | Leave a Comment »

United back on top after Bolton win

Posted by united4ever2009 on October 18, 2009

Manchester United 2-1 Bolton

Zack Knight looks on helplessly as United took an early lead through an own goal by him

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will no doubt have been buoyed by Aston Villa’s 2-1 home win against league rivals Chelsea at Villa Park.

They began the game in true Old Trafford fashion and on 5 minutes they were rewarded for their early efforts when they took the lead thanks to a fortuitous own goal from centre back Zat Knight.

A cross into Michael Owen was headed into the Bolton defenders path and he was left helpless when the ball cannoned off him into the net to make it 1-0 to the Red Devils.

Just a minute later, Ryan Giggs produced some superb wing play to gift an opportunity to defender Johnny Evans, only for the centre back to head straight into Jaaskelainen arms with the goal gaping in front of him.

Manchester United continued to heap pressure on Gary Megson’s men who were struggling to cope with their rampant attacking play. Wave after wave of attacks left Bolton overwhelmed at The Theatre of Dreams.

On 13 minutes, Dimitar Berbatov connected with an Antonio Valencia cross, but his volleyed effort unfortunately deflected off Michael Owen to safety.

Having survived the barrage of attacks, Kevin Davies will be kicking himself for missing a guilt edged chance on 14 minutes. A superb cross from Matt Taylor was sent into the box only for the Bolton man to miss-time his jump and prod wide.

It was Matt Taylor’s turn to try and find an equaliser but he failed to produce a successful effort despite having three opportunities to do so in the space of three minutes.

A resulting counter attack on 33 minutes from Man Utd proved costly for Bolton as Antonio Valencia played a neat one-two with Gary Neville before smashing a right foot effort into the back of the net from 10 yards to make it 2-0.

It was the Ecuadorian’s first goal for the club and he fully deserved it after an impressive opening half hour.

The strike came as a huge blow to Bolton who were just starting to have an influence on the game.

In the second half, Bolton started to show a fighting spirit which was absent in the first half. Gary Megson clearly has a few choice words for his troops at half time.

Despite this, it was Michael Owen who carved out the half’s earliest opportunity when he latched onto a superb touch from Berbatov only to slice his effort wide.

On 55 minutes, Valencia was convinced that he should have been awarded a penalty, however, replays showed that J’Lloyd Samuel had got a toe on the ball and the referee made the correct decision.

Two minutes later, Berbatov again tried an acrobatic effort from another Valencia cross but this time he was denied by the quick witted Jaaskelainen.

With 15 minutes remaining Matt Taylor offered a glimmer of hope for the Bolton side when he beat Patrice Evra in the air at the back post following a good cross from Kevin Davies.

With the score now at 2-1, Bolton sensed the possibility of an equaliser and United seemed to be cautious going forward.

Gary Megson’s men were working harder than their opposition who were visibly concerned about conceding as Bolton began piling on the pressure.

The Trotters’ direct style of play was troubling United, and a flurry of long balls has Fergie’s men well and truly on the back foot.

Ivan Klasnic may feel he should have done better with his effort on 89 minutes, he was teed up by Kevin Davies on the edge of the United box only to see his effort gathered comfortably by Van Der Sar.

Then, with 92 minutes on the clock, Zat Knight failed to make amends for his early own goal when was unable connect appropriately to a header at the back post despite being unmarked and unchallenged.

Bolton’s misery was compiled in the 94th minute when Gary Cahill missed a fantastic opportunity from a long ball, the centre back could not supply the finishing touch as Bolton leave without any points despite a courageous second half performance.

Gary Megson should not be too disheartened by his sides defeat against the champions, although Fergie will be delighted to record the win which sees them leapfrog Chelsea as Premier League leaders.

Posted in English Premier League, Manchester United | Leave a Comment »

Yet to hit top form : Vidic

Posted by unitedfanatic on October 3, 2009

Nemanja Vidic

Nemanja Vidic warned Premier League title contenders that United have a lot more to offer. In an interview with the official website, Vidic was caught in a bullish mood after United navigated to the summit of the Premier League following Chelsea’s loss to Wigan that saw them drop to 2nd behind United on goal difference.

“At the moment we’re doing well and we’ve had the best start to a season in my time here,” he said. “We’ve played some big games and done well, so we’re pleased. But we know we can always improve and we haven’t yet hit our best form.

I think that’s a good thing though because the season is not a sprint, it’s more like a marathon.”

Ahead of the Black cats’ visit on Saturday, Vidic expressed his confidence on carrying forward the momentum and indicated that each game is significant in the title race and that the quality of players must ensure the team is ready towards the climax of the season.

“We have quality players, but it’s the small details that determine who wins the titles and cups. You therefore need to make sure you are also ready for the final part of the season when you have very important games.”

Posted in English Premier League, Nemanja Vidic | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »