Yet another game where we have to thank Hugo, our captain de facto, for the points. Each time he was called upon in a busy, even for this season, first half he excelled and by doing so he kept us in a game we struggled to come to terms with for long periods.
Before the unpleasantly early kick-off a scan of the array of expensive purchases on display in the Man United line-up made one wonder how we were going to get anything from the match. Profligacy from the away side in front of goal and some ruthlessness from us was one option. We got the former as even notwithstanding Lloris’s genius, both the oleagenous van Persie and the brutish Falcao should’ve done better with their first half chances. We had the occasional breakaway, Kane had the beating of the nervous Mcnair and Eriksen floated in some dangerous free kicks but we did well to make it to half-time still level.
It was a different story after the break. Mata and Young were much quieter and it was us mostly on the front foot whilst van Gaal made changes to personnel and formation in an attempt to regain the control his charges had in the first half. We created the better opportunities with Townsend, Fazio and Eriksen all testing De Gea before Mason blasted over after a superbly disguised through ball from Kane. Mason had a good goal scoring record in his ‘junior’ career, it’s a bit of a mystery why he hasn’t shown more prowess at senior level thus far.
As you’ll have gathered, Lloris was our star performer, Kane was probably next in the rankings. Despite not having an opening himself, he created many for others. Fazio and Vertonghen had their moments but emerged with credit. The former was one of our best hopes for a goal after half time. Mason was generally all action and excellent but he, along with several others, needs to be a bit more careful in possession. Our inability to keep the ball was a major concern throughout and needs to improve massively against the better sides.
Led by Lloris, Eriksen and Kane we’ve battled and scrabbled our way to 31 points at the halfway point of the season which is 5 or 6 short of where we’d like to be if we were seriously targeting the top four but about half a dozen more than I thought we’d have at this stage when we were being beaten by West Brom and Stoke. So that means we need 41 or 42 points from the second half of the campaign, as a guide Man City have gained 43 points in their 19 games so far. Hmm. Chelsea next, any point in that one will be a good one.
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