Having seen the result from the Arsenal game, the United players knew that they had the opportunity to close the gap to three points…and you could really see that they wanted to make the most out of the game.
As I expected Nani, Carrick, Fletcher and Tevez started the game and United used a 4-4-2 formation for the first time since the game against Man City. Newcastle has been struggling in the defensive play and United quickly showed that the back four would get a busy evening. In the 25th minute Ronaldo received the ball on the left flank, took on a defender and made an excellent cross which found an unmarked Rooney on the far post who could put the first ball into the net of the evening on a volley. Ronaldo then extended the lead when he scored his 20th league goal of the season after a great pass from Michael Carrick. When everyone was expecting Carrick to play the ball out to Nani who was free on the left flank, Carrick found some space between the central defenders and set Ronaldo free with Shay Given. Simply magnificent play by Carrick.
The 2nd goal came just before half-time break and was for sure a severe psychological hit for the home side. It was however not until five minutes into the second half when United killed off the game. After having tripped and lost the ball Ronaldo was delivered a through ball by Fletcher who had won back the ball for United. As the last Newcastle defender Taylor tried to tackle Ronaldo but completely missed him and Ronaldo made no mistakes in his one-on-one situation with Harper who had replaced Shay Given in half time.
Newcastle then reduced the lead to 3-1 after a corner but never came any closer. Instead United quickly extended the lead once more after a great shot by Rooney from outside the penalty box and then substitute Saha finished the scoreline in stoppage-time.
It was a great performance from United and a massive boost in the title race. I have been praising Nani and Carrick lately and both of them once more put on an excellent perfomance. Nani’s crosses and corners are of highest class and with his dribbles he is a massive threat to the oppoisition’s defense. I think with this display his stocks as a player for the starting eleven has increased alot. Carrick continue to show a great calm on the central midfield – winning balls and delivering perfect passes to the strikers. To me he might be the most important central midfielder at the moment. This result will really put more pressure on Arsenal which has not won in three games. Perhaps now the young squad’s handling of pressure will face a real test for the first time of the season. Will they be able to handle it….I think not and Arsenal will drop more points.
United travel to Newcastle to play the third important game in a week. With good results in the first two games I’m hopeful that the team will travel back to Old Trafford later this evening with three points.
Ferguson has hinted that there will be changes in the team from the line-up against Lyon and I think that we might see players like Fletcher, Carrick and possibly Tevez starting the game. Also Nani who has impressed Alex lately with his progression is a good option for Giggs who got a minor knock in the game on Wednesday. I have been complaining on Giggs’ performances lately so no one would be more satisfied than me if Nani would replace Giggs. We might also see O’Shea playing on the right replacing Brown who has some fitness worries.
While United is high on confidence since the last two games, Newcastle has not one since the 15th of December. One of Newcastle’s biggest problems has been its defensive play and this is something United would have to take advantage of. I’m sure we won’t see another 6-0 game but with the attacking talent in the United squad, there should be room of creating lots of scoring opportunities. I think this game will be a lot tougher and that we will see a game that resembles more to the first half of last game (which ended 0-0). However in the end I think United is too strong for Newcastle and will go home with three points.
My prediction: 1 – 2
The game pretty much went the way I expected and ended in a draw which I think was a fair result. Lyon started the game well but United soon took control of the game. There were not many chances in the first half. Giggs delivered a great through ball to Rooney who turned away the last defender but was unable to put the ball pass the Lyon goalkeeper. Benzema also had a shot just over the bar after a good attack by the home side. However Benzema would get another opportunity in the second half as he received the ball outside the penalty box and this time he showed what a great talent he is. With a quick turn and shot he put the ball in off the post and gave Lyon the lead. The goal pretty much came as a surprise as United had been in total control and started the second half well.
After the goal United had a bad period with lots of bad passing and the team didn’t really create any good chances. A change was needed and Scholes and Giggs were replaced by Tevez and Nani. The subsitutions really made an impact on the game and United started to build some pressure again. Carrick came really close to score after a corner when he tricked a Lyon defender and shot at goal, however the shot was blocked by another player and went out for a corner. This time the corner resulted in a crucial goal for United after Tevez having put the ball in the net from close range.
Although United seemed to have control of the game I think it was just another ok performance on away turf. I think the team needs to raise its game in these types of games if it wants to go all the way. Again Giggs was one more anonymous and with Nani putting on another impressive performance I feel it soon may be time for him to start on the left flank. The same thing goes for Scholes. He’s a fantastic player but when playing at the current level I think Carrick is a better option especially when taking his last couple of games into account. All in all United went home with a good result after a pretty solid performance.
United travel to France to play against a team which has won the French league in six successive seasons. For sure, the pressure is on United to progress into the quarter-finals but the team will face a difficult task, and tonight’s game will be crucial.
While United will be very high on confidence since the thrashing of Arsenal, Lyon go into the game with a loss in the previous game. However I think that will be of no importance today. I hope that United try to play some attacking football tonight. Previous games in the Champions League have shown that when playing on result United is a much easier team to face. Of course it is also very important to score away from home.
I think that Ferguson will play Giggs and Scholes today – even though they may not be in such good form as other players in those positions – simply because of their routine. I would like to see United play a 4-5-1 formation tonight with Carrick and Hargreaves slightly behind Scholes or Rooney. It will be very important to dominate the midfield and to avoid giving Juninho too much time and space. United should apply the same pressure which the team so succesfully did against Arsenal.
Playing Carrick and Hargreaves I think would allow Ronaldo a more free role and against a team that probably has planned how to handle Ronaldo in detail. I think it’s important not to make him an easy target to mark by playing him on his normal position to the right. I’m aware that Fletcher, Nani, and Anderson were marvellous against Arsenal and all could play today. Fletcher normally does a great job in top games against key players in the opponents’ team which he showed against Arsenal when he (together with Anderson) gave Fabregas no space. I could even consider playing Ji-Sung Park to the right and Ronaldo to the left placing Giggs on the bench. Park has been really good since his comeback and his energy will make the United midfield an even stronger force to face.
My prediction: 1-1
United continue to get drawn against Premier League teams in the FA Cup. This time United will host Portsmouth and this means that United will play it’s 11th straight FA Cup game against another Premier League team. I think that as a Man Utd fan you can’t be too disappointed though as it’s a home draw and I think United will take advantage of playing at Old Trafford and beat Pompey and progress into the semi-finals.
United are through to the quarter-finals in the FA Cup after a humiliating 4-0 win against Premier League leaders Arsenal. There are so many good things to say about United’s display today that I don’t know where to start. Ferguson decided to rest some players but the replacements were simply outstanding.
Fletchter – two goals and tireless running not leaving any space for Fabregas. Nani – involved in all goals (took the corner kick that led to the first goal, setting up for two goals and scoring one) showed his true potential with great dribbling and crosses and even humiliated some Arsenal players which were frustrated. And I must say that I will be very upset and surprised if Gallas doesn’t get a suspension for his kicking at Nani after the whistle was blown…horrible play by the French international. But what about 19 year old Anderson…such confidence, strength and great passing…marvellous!
Another player in the home team that has to get the praise he deserves is Carrick. His passing today was out of this world and his performance shows that he should probably be in the starting line up. People might forget to mention Carrick’s performance but perhaps it’s just because you expect him to deliver those world-class passes. However I must say that he is probably an under-rated player. And then we got Rooney. I must once more praise his passion for the game and the runs he makes are a constant threat to the opponents defensive line. Of course it was also nice to see him score again (even though he probably should have scored one or two more goals in this game).
I can’t recall the last game in which the I’ve seen such a hungry Man Utd team, pressing the opponents all over the field. I just hope that the team will continue this way and that the next win will come against Lyon next Wednesday.
The young Brazilian Rodrigo Possebon is set to make his first start in the Reserves against Blackburn tonight. Possebon played for about 30 minutes in the win against Man City in the Senior Cup last week. The midfielder who turned 19 yesterday just recently signed for United and is supposed to be a tall and energetic player. In contrast to other non-European players there was no need of getting Possebon a work permit since he holds an Italian passport. Another thing – which will speed up the adoptation process – is that he speaks Enlgish fluently.
When I first saw the news of United signing Possebon I did wonder why United bought another central midfielder when there are already four great players in the team in that position. First I thought that they had plans to play him at another position but it seems like he will continue to play in the midfield. Maybe he will be ready to take over when Paul Scholes decides to stop playing? He is supposed to be a box-to-box player but I really consider Anderson to be that aswell so I can’t really see the need for the signing. However, talents are always more than welcome to join the squad and if he is supposed to be a great talent then I’m really interested in following his progress.