If any doubts had remained about whether Manchester United is capable of challenging for the Premier League, those doubts were completely vanquished today.
Sure, Manchester United were poor at times in the first half; that will be quickly forgotten as due to some of the sublime stuff they put in during the second half. As I’m an Arsenal fan, I generally don’t like praising United- however the performance they put in after half time definitely merits this rare bit of praise (from me), and the four goals conceded by Wigan could quite have easily been more.
Manchester United had started off poorly, mainly due to an injury to Wayne Rooney and the suspension of last season’s star player Cristiano Ronaldo. Those two players are now back in the team, and fully showed what they were capable of today. Carlos Tevez took a while to get going; United fans will hope the two goals in his last four games will spur him on into the type of performances he put in to save West Ham. This result sends the Red Devils top of the league, and what looks ominous is that the club have nowhere near hit top form apart from the second half today.
The game started off pretty quietly; Louis Saha was ruled out after picking up an injury in the pre-match warm up while both Nemanja Vidic and John O’Shea went off injured in the first half. Those injuries told as Manchester United struggled to get back their rhythm, however it all paid off in the end. United started stepping it up a notch towards the end of the first half, when both Ronaldo and Tevez had shots on goal; the first being saved by Kirkland while the second went just over the bar.
Manchester United started off the second half with a bang, Ryan Giggs hitting the crossbar after hitting the ball on the volley. Not too worry however; Tevez soon put the champions ahead after holding off Kevin Kilbane and then slotting the ball into the back of the net. More was to follow- Ronaldo scored his third and fourth goals of the season in quick succession; first heading in after a United corner and then tapping in one of the easiest goals he’ll score all season from Rooney’s excellent cross. The bookmakers are lucky that the Portuguese winger did not score a hat trick- the odds were 33-1 before the match, however Ronaldo could have notched his third had he not blazed over the bar after a good ball over the top.
Wayne Rooney has now scored two goals in two games; his match-winner against Roma in the Champions League followed by today’s point blank header after Simpson’s accurate cross. With all of United’s players slowly aiming to reach the types of performances they put in last year, it seems like the Red Devils will be one of the front runners for the league this year- and could even stay top if Arsenal lose to Sunderland tomorrow.
As an Arsenal fan, it was almost painful to watch Manchester United’s game against Wigan and be enthralled by the football shown in the second half; I’m sure (hoping!) that this is just a one-off and United will be back to their beginning-of-season form next game ;). It would be great to see a title race between Arsenal and Manchester United like the ones of old- I’m sure Wenger and Fergie are practising the mind game techniques as we speak. In my opinion, despite Liverpool’s excellent squad they will not win it as Benitez is too stubborn regarding his rotation policy; hopefully Chelsea will implode even further tomorrow against Bolton at the Reebok. Hope you enjoyed this completely unbiased last paragraph, eh? 😀