By Nathan Thomas.
1. Manchester United the team to beat once again.
If someone would have told me that by 6pm on Sunday United would be top of the league after Manchester City demolished Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane I would have been somewhat sceptical. The performance that I and thousands of other United supporters were then to witness was nothing short of stunning, dominance of the midfield, scintillating one touch football United were utterly spellbinding and thoroughly merited the eight goals that were so brilliantly dispatched. Now, okay this was an Arsenal team, forgive my French, on the bones of its arse however this wasn’t 2-0 or 3-0 this was and 8-2 humiliation and any Arsenal fan or fan of another club using Arsenal’s weak squad as an excuse is clearly out of touch. Youngsters they were however our players are hardly planning to apply for a bus pass anytime soon the average age of the side was 23 incidentally. I mentioned City’s result previously and don’t get me wrong that is a terrific result and they appear to be ready to mount a serious title challenge however this is a long hard season and with City now competing in the Champions League it could well take its toll on their side as it did with Tottenham. United shouldn’t have that problem and this surely, once again makes us the team to beat.
2. Rooney on fire
After a stop start season last year Rooney has hit the ground running so far this season, every game Rooney has been crucial, everything goes through him and he is without doubt United’s talisman. Some may have still have not have forgiven Rooney for his contract fiasco last October and some may never do so however I do not fall under that category and am prepared to give Rooney a second chance and in reality since that wonderful over-head kick strike against Manchester City in February he has begun to repay our faith. A brilliant hat-trick capped a fine display by Rooney and his first was his 150th United goal, frightening for a man of only twenty-five. His goals against Arsenal were forged on the training ground with two perfectly placed free kicks preceding a well taken penalty, he is oozing confidence as he showed when trying to lob Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny from the half way line and was not far away in truth. The highlight from United’s number ten was in the second half when he received the ball in the final third turned and then executed a ‘Cantona esc’ chip which floated over the stranded Szczesny but hit the post, so unlucky and Rooney’s sheer brilliance deserved more. The striker now looks fitter, sharper and has got his touch back and with him being still at least two years off his peak Rooney will be a vital component of the United machine once again, as they push for a twentieth league title and more.
3. Stick with De Gea
I was so impressed by the eagerness of the Old Trafford faithful to get behind under fire goalkeeper David De Gea, the 75,000 fans packed inside at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon continued with the precedent they had set against Spurs by cheering each and every De Gea save and touch of the ball. After the 3-0 victory over Spurs last Monday stand in Captain Patrice Evra made a point of saying how pleased De Gea was to have the backing of thousands of raucous United fans and fans the world over. My delight continued when De Gea pulled out a great penalty save from Robin Van Persie when United were 1-0, a pivotal intervention that put United well and truly in control. Afterwards he then proceeded to make a great double save from first Arshavin and then Van Persie, okay he should have done better with Theo Walcott’s goal getting his positioning all wrong however with a goalkeeper so young faults will be evident but on a personal note the Spaniard has shown enough so far to prove to me he has the capability, for pity’s sake he’s playing as number one at Man United at twenty years old, with the talent and preciseness of our scouting system he clearly has bags of talent and even more potential. Think of it this way, were any of the other top Premier League keepers playing as number one at their current club at twenty? I think not. De Gea may make more mistakes however I urge all United supporters to stay behind him and do not waver in your support, think of when Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes was under pressure last season, Spurs fans ironically mocking his every touch will have shot his confidence to pieces, DO NOT do the same with De Gea, trust in him and you will be rewarded.
4. Ferguson vindicated as he sticks with young defenders
I was unsure prior to the game whether or not Ferguson would be tempted to draft in one or two experienced heads as although this was a struggling Arsenal team it was an Arsenal team none the less. The possibility of a Ferdinand appearance or even a Carrick or Giggs was a strong possibility but as so often has been the case down the year Sir Alex stuck with youth and he was well and truly vindicated, everyone of his young starlets impressing, Welbeck once again strong up front and showing his poacher instincts for the first goal, Cleverley brilliant in the middle showing an amount of attacking potential that has seldom been seen from the United midfield over the past few seasons but it is at the back where the future looks even more promising. Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling have both been solid so far this year but Phil Jones has been colossal, unafraid to carry the ball, can head the ball and his tackles are devastatingly powerful for a boy of nineteen. The downside to their performance were the two goals conceded both of which came as result of a lapse in concentration as, in the first case, the game drew to half time and in the second when United were cruising. This does not count as an excuse however and Ferguson will have let them know in no uncertain terms that United defenders must concentrate for the full ninety minutes. Of course the likes of Evans and Jones got away with brief lapses today as the attacking contingent of United’s eleven took charge and to unbelievable affect but they must learn from their mistakes as it is a marathon and not a sprint, after all.
5. Who needs Wesley, we’ve got Tom Cleverley
This was a sign held aloft by a United fan down Sir Matt Busby way after the final whistle had blown, it has also made an appearance at the West Brom game. Now, as humorous as it is and as much as I am a fan of Tom Cleverley I think most United fans would welcome the somewhat unlikely signing of Wesley Sneijder however should the Dutchman decide to stay at the San Siro I believe United still have a perfect mix of exciting youth and tried and tested experience. The three substitutes made today were a case in point, when Welbeck pulled up with an unfortunate hamstring injury United had last season’s twenty goal hero Javier Hernandez to turn to and then later on with United 5-1 United brought on Ryan Giggs and Ji-Sung Park to bolster the midfield. Fans that I have spoken to so far this season seem to think this current new generation of United youngsters will permanently force the likes of Giggs, Fletcher, Carrick and Berbatov out of the side permanently, not a chance. United may be showing the blistering attacking football so craved last season however it is important that they mix this newly found exuberant style with the steely determination a workman-like ability that ultimately won us the nineteenth title, a combination of the two would be devastating!