What Have We Learnt?

We went into the West Brom game on the back of two home victories so you would that confidence would be high and we could get another victory going into the Chelsea match at Old Trafford on Sunday. West Brom started the game as I thought they would. They were quicker out of the blocks than us and got the early goal that their good early play deserved even though it did come at time when we were having a sustained spell of pressure. They hit us on the break with an attack down our left hand side with both Shaw and Di Maria caught out of position. Di Maria because we had just had a lot of the ball and he was trying to keep the pressure on the West Brom defence. The goal came from a kick out from their goalkeeper and the ball came towards Dorrans who was around the centre circle, now Shaw was attracted to the ball and Dorrans managed to flick the ball past Shaw towards Wisdom who due to Shaw being caught of position had acres of space to run into, Blind tried to close him down but wasn’t quick, Wisdom squared the ball to Sessegnon who’s finish flew straight into the top corner and De Gea had no chance to save it.

After this I feel we dominated the half in terms of possession and territorially but it was always the say play get the ball out to Di Maria, Di Maria cross it in and it would either get blocked for a corner and these would be cleared quite easily or if the cross did beat the first man it was either headed clear or would go straight to the Goalkeeper. We didn’t really have a plan b, a couple of we went down the other side with Januzaj but I feel he didn’t really want to run at the defenders and was taking too long to get crosses in. So the 2nd half started with Fellaini coming on for Herrera, now I don’t know if Herrera wasn’t fit but if it was up to me I would have taken Mata. I feel he was terrible in this match, he didn’t do anything to effect the game like you would expect from a player with his price tag and he was getting pushed off the ball way too easy.

So we got back thanks to Fellaini’s well taken goal, this typically came from a Di Maria cross and Fellaini was too strong for Lescott and chected the ball and side steeped another defende before firing the ball into the roof of the West Brom net. You would now hope that we would go on and take control of this game, we did have a sustained spell of pressure for about five minutes after our goal. West Brom then got a foothold in the game again and took the lead again on 66 minutes through Berahino, this goal was just too easy for them with a ball played from the centre circle through to Berahino who had a clear run of goal thanks to be being played onside by Rafael but it wasn’t just his fault, all four defenders were in different positions along the back four. Jones had come flying out of his position and Rojo and Shaw weren’t level either. Rafael was the man playing him onside though so he will get the blame.


Now our defence has been poor this year. I feel this is down to us not being able to play a settled back four though. Jones, Evans, Smalling, Rojo, Blackett and McNair have all played in the centre back positions this season and probably the longest a pair has played together is 2 games. This was Rojo and Jones first game as a centre back pairing. Shaw missed the first 4 or 5 games of the season and Rafael missed the first few games due to injury, if this is going to be our back four this season, they need games together so they can get used to each others games and build up understandings. Not just the two centre backs but the centre backs with the full backs on their side.

Falcao came on just after we had gone behind, with Mata going off, if Mata is going to stay in the team when Rooney returns from his suspension he needs to put in a performance against Chelsea, I don’t feel Mata has really ever taken the game by the scruff of its neck like I feel a player of his type should and be at the centre of our attacking play. I would love to see him be a success for us but I feel he may one to go Summer if not in January.

With Falcao now upfront it allowed Van Persie to roam a bit more, I feel he was slightly more effective in this role than he had been when playing up front on his own. I feel there is something not quite right about Van Persie at the moment. Is he carrying an injury? Is he coming towards the end at this level? Have all the injuries over the years taken their toll on his body. I don’t know, all I know is I’m watching every game hoping that the Robin Van Persie of his first season with us with appear and he hasn’t done yet. Early in the season I was thinking he maybe just needs games but I feel he’s now had them games and there is no real improvement in his play.

Di Maria was taken off and Young came on, when this happened I thought oh well that’s the game gone, because we didn’t really seem to have any plan without Di Maria on the pitch. Somehow we managed to get back level again through Daley Blinds well taken goal from the edge of the area. He had a few efforts  during the match and finally managed to get one on target with his well taken side foot into the bottom corner. We had the pretty much the rest of the play until final whistle but we never looked like scoring, I feel we were just hoofing the ball forward and didn’t really have a real plan in these last few minutes. So the game ended in a 2-2 draw and we should have won this game after all the possession we had and territorially advantage we had but again every time West Brom attacked us I felt they could score against. I’m hoping our defence needs games together but they all need more protection from the midfield especially away from home. We can’t just expect Daley Blind to protect the defence on his own. I think the return of Michael Carrick will help with this though so hopefully we’ll see some improvement in our next away games.

About Andrew Hyslop 398 Articles
Creator of Sir Alex Ferguson Way and writer of football books https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01M1RVX27

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