20 November 2010

Match 14 Review: If there is a Football God, He is with us at the moment (Video)

Lucky 7: Chicharito's 7th goal for United this season was the second in the game
Manchester United 2-0 Wigan Athletic
Attendance: 74181

Match Week 14: It was an important week for the “Top 3” as the top place was up for grabs for all of them, not so much for United practically speaking because of the massive goal difference from Chelsea, but then again, this is football, we have seen teams winning 9-1 or 9-0!! 

First, it was the London derby that had all the thrills and spills of a breathtaking match. Arsenal, who were leading comfortably by 2 goals to nil at half time, surrendered their lead and lost 3-2 to Tottenham. Three brilliant goals in the second half from the man-in-form, Bale, the master signing Van der Vaart and the giant defender Younus Kaboul gave Spurs fans something to brag for the next few months until the two teams meet again. So, Arsenal were to remain at No.2 at least for the next 90 minutes. The game was epic by nature with Spurs breaking the 17 year deadlock of winning at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger failed to keep his cool after Arsenal conceded the late 3rd goal as he threw the water bottle on the floor. Oh what a sight! Let the whiners whine!!
Then came the match the Red Devils were looking forward to. United's games against the Latics (Wigan Athletic) have always been an opportunity to increase the goal difference massively in the past. Much more than the match, the team sheet was the talking point among the Reds as the highly anticipated return of Wayne Rooney was further delayed by the manager, who decided to start him on the bench. United XI included VDS, Rafael, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Obertan, Fletcher, Carrick, Park, Nani and Macheda. A decent line up with a surprise inclusion of Rafael who was supposedly suffering from a dead leg. To be honest, the United bench looked much stronger with the likes of Scholes, Rooney and Giggs ready to come on at any moment.

The match began with United keeping most of the possession of the ball. Though, by the 15th minute, Wigan had tested VDS twice with none of the United player looking likely to break through the strong Wigan midfield and an even stronger defense. Then came a a Nani free kick swirling in from the left and forcing Ali Al Habsi into an important save to prevent Captain Vidic getting the decisive touch at the back post.  

Meanwhile, at the other end, the defense was continuously being tested by the likes of Hugo Rodallega who made a powerful run into the penalty area and fired a shot that van der Sar saved comfortably, and later sent in an ambitious overhead kick wide. N’Zogbia, the troubled midfielder, too made some decent runs into the heart of defense and kept United defenders on their heels.

Nani, along with Obertan, was United’s most dangerous attacking outlet, amongst a lack luster midfield with Carrick particularly proving to be the weakest link in the team. Wigan had to do the most of the defending in the first half and they nearly managed to see off the first half without conceding a goal. 
But Ji Sung Park had something else in his mind. The Korean sent in an inch perfect cross to Evra who made no mistake in sending the ball across Al Habsi’s post. It was just his third goal for United and only his second in the premier league (the last one coming 4 years back). Thus United managed to end the first half on a high note.

The news of Birmingham leading Chelsea by one goal at half time would have cheered up the team even further as they looked even more lethal from the beginning of the II half. Wayne Rooney made his much anticipated comeback when Kiko Macheda, the hero of last match against Aston Villa, was substituted. Also, the midfield maestro Scholes came on for "Wolves specialist" Park. 

Wayne Rooney received a mixed reception from the Old Trafford faithful who turned up in large numbers to watch the game (Attendance: 74181)
Rooney proved to be a lucky charm for United as not much long after his introduction, Wigan captain and central defender, Alcaraz was sent off for getting his second yellow of the day after a loose tackle on Fletcher. Rodallega, their lone striker, seemed to miss the captain and followed him into the dugout by earning a straight red card for a diving two-footed tackle on Rafael. Wayne took his time to settle down. Soon after he showed his class by finding Rafael on the right wing who then delivered a perfect cross back to Rooney. Rooney nearly found the back of the net with his header which was his most efficient way to score goals last season.

Wigan who had not won against United in the past 11 years with a full team certainly had no chance of coming back from a goal down with 9 men. It was now up to United that how many goals could they score in the remaining 25 odd minutes. To bolster the attack, Chicarito was brought on for an out of form Carrick. It was a one way traffic for the last 25 minutes with Wigan hitting a shot on target just once from a free kick in that time.

Rafael seemed to be relishing his temporary role at the Right midfield sending in aerial crosses from time to time. One such cross in the 71st minute saw Rooney’s attempt on goal being saved by the goalkeeper. Rooney, who had been quiet for the first few minutes of his comeback jumped high and early to direct Rafael’s cross but it went straight to the goalkeeper. 

One such cross from the young Brazilian fullback in the 77th minute saw Chicarito lay low on the ground to direct his header in the bottom right corner of the post, making it impossible for the goalkeeper who could do nothing but gaze as the ball went past him like a rocket. Chicarito, an unknown player before United signed him has already become a fan favorite having scored 7 in the season with 3 of them coming off from every angle of his head.

Javier Hernandez "Chicharito" goal against Wigan Athletic

Another Rafael cross was missed by both Nani and Hernandez with either of them failing to provide the all important final touch to the ball from a close range. Rooney too missed a golden opportunity to silence his critics with the striker hurrying into a shot that in the end was easily saved by Al Habsi.

The match ended with scoreboard reading 2-0. Rafael who was really the shocking name on the United team sheet, definitely deserved the not-so-shockingly Man of the Match for his amazing perfromace throughout the game. Apart from game's result, what made the United fans even more happier was the news that Chelsea had suffered a 3rd league defeat in their last 4 matches, this time losing to Birmingham by 1 goal to nil. This made United cover up the difference in points with Chelsea though they still trail by goal difference which too could have been minimized had United made most of the chances in the last few minutes of the game. Special thanks goes to Ben Foster who prevented the big guns of Chelsea like Drogba, Anelka and Malouda from scoring with some marvellous saves! Manchester United certainly owe the lad for his excellent effort which didn't just make him the man of the match but MAN OF THE DAY as well!

Next up for United is away to Rangers in their Champions’ League Group stage match where United have almost qualified for the knockout stages. The future looks bright for them with their star striker back; though it would take him some time to settle in completely.


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