Starting Eleven – Manchester United
The international break has prompted Sir SAF to rotate the starting eleven. The defense was the quad of Vidic, Rafael, Smalling and Buttner. Ferdinand given rest after the international match while Evra too given rest favoring Buttner on the left.
The midfield had a fresh twist with the trio of Carrick, Anderson and Kagawa in the middle. The Japanese midfielder slightly ahead of Carrick and Anderson to help out RvP with Anderson and Carrick to provide protection to defense. Valencia and Young out on the flanks to provide the width and pace to get the ball beyond the defense of Sunderland.
The solo forward being RvP.
The substitutions were the early bringing on of Evans in place of Rafael who tweaked his groin. This prompted the switch between Smalling and Evans. Smalling taking the right back and Evans taking on the CB role. Later on, Cleverley and Welbeck came in for Anderson and Shinji Kagawa to provide more energy in the midfield.
United Counter Attack
The whole of United’s philosophy was to counter attack through the wings and Kagawa. In the first half, the quickness of Kagawa and the lethargy among the Sunderland players to track back enabled the Japanese midfielder to find pockets of space to run into and attack from. This provided the impetus to switch the ball to and from the flanks.
In addition, Young and Buttner had a strong play on the left helped by Kagawa’s positional freedom. The rapidity of United’s counter was thanks to the pace on the wings and Kagawa in the middle. Sunderland were really slow in getting numbers back that it hurt them continuously with decent chances from United.
Sunderland Amps It Up
The second half saw the Home team play with more gusto and enthusiasm. They pushed higher up the pitch putting pressure on the midfield. Like matches before, this caused some lapses in passing which would’ve been dangerous if the opposition was a better team. Much like the Chelsea match. This prompted SAF to bring on Cleverley and Welbeck to replace Anderson and Kagawa. In essence, this move was to solidify the midfield and bring some control. It didn’t work wonders but it was enough.
The best player of the day in my opinion was Michael Carrick. He time and again shows why he is a great midfielder. Passing and control of the game was top notch in the early half. As time wore on, with oncoming pressure, he was brilliant. Running back, tackling and marking. Carrick was by far the best player on the pitch.
The difference between United and many other teams season after season has been the ability to grind out wins. This was an excellent example. First half, they put Sunderland in a good amount of pressure and then just held steadfastly. Maybe, RvP should’ve score at the last touch of the match which was palmed away by the Sunderland Keeper. A win is a win and that was enough.