Manchester United continued there 100% record against Hull City in The Premier League with a 3-0 victory over them at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, a win that makes it 3 wins in a row for United for the first time in this calendar year. I feel the star of the show was Ander Herrera, he didn’t start the game but entered the fray when Angel Di Maria was forced off with an injury in the 14th minute of the game. I feel United had started the game well but once Herrera had come on to replace the injured Di Maria, the pace of their play seem to be upped with Herrera at the centre of a lot United’s good moves. He made 82 passes in this game and completed 75 of them, that’s a pass completion of 91%
I think this completed passes map for Ander Herrera always shows how much ground he covered at Old Trafford on Saturday. I had to ask myself why has this man been sat on the bench without getting on the pitch for the last few games. He showed a range of passing in this game with a lot of one touch passes and moving into space to receive the ball again. He also showed he could play balls both through to the strikers and also balls over the top of the defence. So for me Ander Herrera was man of the match in this match against Hull City and should keep his place in the team for the foreseeable future. For me the other contenders for man of the match in this game were Michael Carrick and Chris Smalling.
Carrick has been a big part of this United team looking more solid since his return from injury that he suffered before the season had started. For me he is the best English midfielder in the league. He shields the defence really well or like in this game has shown he can play at the back. He doesn’t panic when he’s on the ball, the majority of time he will play the simple pass to keep the ball moving. He rarely gives the ball and I feel United’s ball retention will vastly improve with Carrick in the team. He also showed his long passing range in this match especially with his ball over the top of the Hull defence for the Van Persie header which was given offside but I think this something that Van Persie has missed while Carrick hasn’t been in the team.
Chris Smalling put in another solid performance in the United back line after returning to the team against Arsenal following his sending off in the Manchester Derby. He did all the defensive work he had to do with an assured calmness. Got himself a goal (thanks to goal line technology) and was a threat to the Hull goal on several other occasions, there were several times when he came out with ball, think this is something the defenders can do when playing with a three-man defence. Smalling and the other centre-backs at the club need to not only prove they are good enough but also that they can stay injury free. Otherwise Van Gaal may be tempted to go into the transfer market as early as January for a new centre-back.
Next up for United is Stoke City on Tuesday night at Old Trafford. Another home game for United and unusually for United this season a mid-week game. After the Hull game United go into this game on back of three wins in a row and surely the confidence within the squad must be improving with every game. In those three wins United have scored 6 goals and only conceded 1. Their opponents on Tuesday night are again managed by a returning player, this time in the shape of Mark Hughes. Stoke has lost 3 of their last 6 games including the last 2, a 2-1 defeat to Burnley at home and they unluckily lost at Liverpool on Saturday. They have got some good results on the road this year with a 1-0 victory against Manchester City and also beating Tottenham 2-1 so United will need to wary of this Stoke team especially on the counter attack.
I think Stoke City will be set-up by Hughes to defend and encourage United to attack them and then try to hit United on the break. So United will have to careful not to commit too many men forward. They will probably need to be patient and the breakthrough might not come until the 2nd half. Stoke got their win at City earlier in the season by defending well and then hitting City on the break when they had committed too many men forward. I think United should go into this game with the same team that played for the majority of the game against Hull. With obviously Herrera coming in for the injured Di Maria from the start. I would also give Van Persie another start and hope that his goal against Stoke will restore some confidence for him.