United went on to winning the game quite easily with score line of 3-1. Here are some of the worth noting points from the game apart from those punditry talks that you heard and read.
1) There’s no doubt that Tom Cleverley’s goal was brilliant. What’s more brilliant was his style of scoring. He has scored 3 goals this season with all three being the perfect curler into the right corner. The technique, execution is so familiar that people have already started comparing him to David Beckham, not to forget his celebration. Another feature of that classy goal was the number of passes before that goal. Right from Van Persie’s corner kick, Manchester United played 14-15 passes together while moving ball from right to left to score a perfect textbook goal.
2) Michael Carrick is definitely one of the best central midfielders in Premier League. He played for 45 minutes and was everywhere on the field with tackling players, breaking down the attacks and then going into opposition box looking for goals himself. The feature of Michael Carrick that goes unnoticed is his link up play with defence. The way hegathers the ball from the defense and plays it to another midfield player is something that reminds me very much of Xabi Alonso. Maybe he’s not quite as good as Alonso but definitely he’s the best in England for that position and that’s not an overstatement. Manchester United without him in second half looked scrappy sometimes with the defenders not getting the shield in the name of Carrick which they got in first half.
3) Antonio Valencia is getting back into his first season syndrome. He does the same things over and over and he’s quite predictable this season. He needs to improve his decisionmaking. He does everything right and then suddenly goes into the shell of dazedness. Given a two options, most of the times he would try to pick up the difficult player in the box. Surely he would be in the radar of Sir Alex who has changed Ashley Young’s game quite significantly in last few weeks. One more characteristic that United fans often talks about Valencia is his ability to use his left foot. I'm in agreement, that just because he’s a right footed orthodox winger doesn’t mean he leave his left foot to locker room. He should try using his sometimes. This is the time when United misses Nani most with his twisting and turning and unpredictably left foot crossing ability.
4) Robin Van Persie doesn’t only score goals but he also makes sure that he’s at the back defending when the team needs him. He has been great at the near post while defending corners. Not only does he clear the line, he never hesitates in throwing himself into tackles. Four yellow cards this season is proof for his defending license.
5) This was the 14th time this season when United scored 3 goals or more and 20th time when United failed to get a clean sheet. In other words United are more likely to concede home goals in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages so the defence needs to be strengthened. During the Sunderland game particularly, there was no cover at the backpost on few instance and this could be costly going into the Champions League where the standard of teams are higher than Sunderland. On a brighter side United failed to score only on 4 occasions this season that means they’ll play away matches in full throttle. United will have to make sure that they finish the tie in first match, otherwise defending in second match can be a matter of concern.
image: © Magnus D