5 Things We Learned: Manchester United 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
1.Welbeck not wide
With Antonio Valencia and Nani both missing the game through injury, Sir Alex opted to deploy Danny Welbeck on the wing, clearly hoping his pace and directness would open up QPR. However as has been the case on a number of previous occasions, Welbeck was largely anonymous, and every time he was in possession he seemed to dawdle, with United often surrendering possession as a result.
Playing out wide is clearly not Danny’s best position and despite working tirelessly while he was on the pitch, the lack of width he offered, coupled with the static midfield, restricted the fluidity going forward. It would have been intriguing to see how Powell would have fared on the wing today, after a very promising performance in the hostile pressure cooker atmosphere provided away at Galatasaray. When he replaced Welbeck he once again showed flashes of brilliance, and it could be time to give him more first team minutes in the league.
It was hard not to compare Welbeck to United’s usual right wing dynamo Valencia, who despite not performing to his full potential in recent weeks, offers United precision and power going forward with a penchant for doing the dirty work at the back. While it’s not Welbeck’s fault that he is asked to play out wide, it’s about time he was back up top, where undoubtedly he has a great future at United.
2. Anderson needs to start
For 60 minutes of the game today the Red Devils were slow, lethargic and lacking urgency in the middle of the park. United just couldn’t seem to get a grip of the game and even though Paul Scholes has single-handedly won games for the Reds down the years, he struggled. Darren Fletcher had a steady game, but he’s more of a ball winner than a defence splitter.
All of this changed however when Anderson came on with a third of the game remaining. QPR were leading 1-0 and a huge shock was on the cards, but the introduction of the Brazilian suddenly sparked United into life. He ran with the ball, he harried the opposition, and he, with the help of Hernandez and co, provided the catalyst for three goals in eight minutes.
His performance was epitomised by the third goal. He exchanged a quick one two before bursting forward and then, with a number options, he delivered an exquisite slide rule pass for Hernandez who calmly placed the ball into the bottom corner. He was exactly what the Reds needed last week against Norwich, and without a doubt, he deserves to start against West Ham on Wednesday. His energy could be precisely what the midfield has missed this season.
3. Corners keep providing goals
In recent seasons one area which has let United down in an attacking sense has been corners. With so many technically gifted players and dominant headers of the ball, you would expect the Reds to score from corners on a regular basis, but unfortunately this has not been the case. Up until this season.
Somehow Sir Alex and his players have found the right formula, with important goals coming from corners away at Newcastle with Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra profiting, and away at Southampton when Robin van Persie sensationally scored a 90th minute winner.
Yesterday, with United trailing and nerves spreading round an anxious Old Trafford, corners were once again the saviour, as first Jonny Evans and then Darren Fletcher found the net with expert headers to spare United’s blushes and send them back to the top of the table. With the Red Devils free scoring from open play so far this season, the added bonus of scoring from set pieces just adds that extra element to United’s attacking potency, and if they continue to be prolific from corners you always have a great chance of scoring in games even if the chances aren’t coming from open play.
4. Sir Alex knows best
Many fans have been left scratching their heads this season at some of the teams Ferguson has sent onto the pitch so far this term, with Newcastle in particular standing out, but the Reds did the business and won 3-0 with a diamond of central midfielders.
And question marks were being raised at the hour mark away at Aston Villa with the Red Devils 2-0, and again dissenting voices could be heard amongst those of a red persuasion as United trailed to a QPR side sitting bottom of the table.
However at Villa Park Hernandez, a half time substitution, turned the game on its head, with United going on to win the game, and yesterday despite getting the team wrong from the outset, Sir Alex brought on the players to win the game. He correctly identified that his charges were lacking urgency in midfield and movement up front, throwing on Hernandez and Anderson. Immediately United came to life and within eight minutes the game was beyond the visitors.
Yes Norwich proved a frustrating game with the tactics seemingly wrong, but you get games like that over the course of the season, and games like yesterday prove that the manager, who had a statue unveiled to celebrate his incredible contributions to the success of the Reds on Friday, knows best.
5. Van Persie needs width for goals
After a scintillating start to his Manchester United career, van Persie has now failed to score in his last three Premier League games, and incidentally this has coincided with the wide players struggling to find form.
Five of van Persie’s eight goals in the league have come from crosses, with Antonio Valencia setting three of these goals up, and winning the penalty from which Van Persie scored at Liverpool.
The Ecuadorian winger, it has emerged, will sit out the visit of West Ham because of a hip problem, an injury which has been plaguing him for a couple of weeks. This goes some way to explain the dynamic winger’s lack of form and van Persie’s lack of goals.
The Dutchman has scored from Valencia crosses against Southampton, Stoke and Chelsea, and hopefully if Valencia gets fit again, the pair can once again strike up their devastating partnership.
Latest Manchester United 2012-13 statistics.
Man of the Match Poll & Player Ratings: Manchester United vs. Queens Park Rangers here.
Share your thoughts with the Stretford End Arising forum.