Yes, Man U won, but they look poor. The two goals were gifts and Arsenal looked by far the better side. I said this after the thrashing of Wigan (a game in which Wigan had more possession) – but the loss of Ronaldo and Tevez puts a lot more pressure not just on Rooney but on the whole squad. Weaknesses in the team that were often glossed over last year are now coming to the forefront. Call this hyperbole but they looked more like an Everton, Villa, or even a Sunderland than potential European or EPL champs. The way United approached Arsenal with a 4-5-1 defensive crouch is exactly what a team that lacks a little confidence and that feels itself a little over matched does.
1. In attack, Rooney looked lonely and isolated in the 4-5-1 and United couldn’t get numbers forward quickly enough to support him. Man U fans hope that Rooney can step into the spotlight left by Ronaldo and score loads and loads of goals. Maybe, but he doesn’t have a great goal scoring record in the past and when I think of Rooney I don’t think natural goal scorer. Sure Wayne Rooney is a great player and all of England is really hoping he is among the world’s best players, but he cannot carry the Man U attack as a lone striker.
2. The midfield looks average. Behind Rooney in the hole was 35 (soon to be 36) year old Ryan Giggs. I’m sorry but the “ageless” Giggs looked all of his 35 years. He was awful. His distribution was poor and he was constantly caught in possession. Behind Giggs was Carrick and Fletcher. Fletcher is a decent enough player but hardly would be mentioned as one of the best midfielders in England. Carrick is class but looks like he is in a poor run of form. And out wide you have Nani and Valencia. Both are typical out and out wingers and have some potential but neither look like world beaters. Against Arsenal neither created much or gave Arsenal much trouble.
The problem Man U has now is that with the loss of Ronaldo and Tevez there is so much more pressure on the midfield to create chances – and it is much harder to create when you have no Ronaldo and Tevez to pass too. In other words, those two players made everyone around them look a lot better. A midfield of Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs, Nani, and Valencia is good, but which one of those players can regularly change a game?
Nevertheless there is something about Man U and Ferguson – a confidence maybe – that makes it hard to say they are the weakest of the top 4. But they certainly looked it.
Filed under: Premier League |