First trip of December saw the reds take on Stoke at Old Trafford to kick off a very busy month for United. Luckily it was a good start to the month with a hard fought 2-1 victory over a pretty tough defensive team. A first half goal from Fellaini (who’s impressive form for United has been a breath of fresh air from his first season) and a second half free kick from Juan Mata, which if Rojo did get a touch to would of been offside ensured United came out with 3 points and a fourth consecutive win, a small mention yet again to David De Gea who really can’t seem to put a foot wrong and stopped Diouf for Stoke from point blank range which could of stole a point for Stoke.
Our next game was against Southampton who were riding high in 3rd place after a very impressive start to the season. This was a game where we really rode our luck and we were that bad at times that 2 very early substitutions needed to be made. After the early substitutions united still looked a little bit lost at the back, again a result of inconsistency due to the number of injuries and thus players not playing together regularly enough, however with the form De Gea was in yet again, only one goal managed to slip through. Luckily for United Robin Van Persie was in good form and finally found his shooting boots, capitalising on an early Southampton error and then slotting home with 20mins to go to give the boys 3 points and the first time they had been in the top 3 since August 2013.
So, moving onto the “Bigger”. Liverpool at home, with 5 straight wins and some more consistency with injuries, coupled with Liverpool’s indifferent form, this was going to be a close but interesting encounter…..which because of of that wonderful Spanish fella, De Gea I think he is called, with a string of mightily important saves off Sterling and Ballotelli, ensured that the game actually turned out to be quite a comfortable one for the United.
De Gea saves gave the rest of the team the list to push on and attack, and against some rather average defending that is exactly what we did. Rooney capitalised to give us an early lead and settle the nerves, then a Mata goal just before half time (which some believe was a little lucky as was from an offside position!) gave MUFC a 2-0 lead and some breathing space going into the second half.
During the second half Liverpool rang the changes and brought Ballotelli on who went close but a clinical finish from Robin van Persie who scored his 3rd in 3 ensured United were going home with the 3 points and a 6th successive win!
Given that this is a very busy month for United, we will need to use some of our squad depth to get through the Christmas period, with games against Aston Villa, Newcastle and Tottenham coming up.
Firstly Aston Villa, which Van Gaal did ring the changes, although I wouldn’t say we were any weaker…Falcao came in for his first start in a long time, which the fans really did love to see, as we are all behind him and really want him to come up with the goods for us! Luckily for us…he did, a great climbing header helped to cancel out Benteke’s opener and steala point for United, not a great point away as Aston Villa haven’t been in great form and this could of been a good one to put us a few points clear in 3rd place, however the final ball and cutting edge was just not there, even when Aston Villa went down to 10-men, still a point away from home won’t be sniffed at.
A good result against Newcastle helped the Christmas Day hangovers with a comfortable 3-1 victory, a very attacking starting line-up with Falcao, Rooney, Mata and van Persie was a really good sight to see, with a brace for Rooney and one for Van Persie! They all seemed to work well together although Rooney playing so deep might not be the best use of him, and when Angel Di Maria is back fit it would be interesting to see who slots in where.
Then to finish the year off, a draw against Tottenham which isn’t always an easy place to go and get a result, and we couldn’t manage to break down the organised defence of Tottenham, we did manage to field an unchanged side for the first time in 85 games which was a massive boost of confidence for everyone involved in United as consistency and selection has been a bug bear all season. I think it would be fair to see we were a little unlucky with Loris saving well from Falcao and van Persie, but it wasn’t our day and another point away.
At this point I think it fair to say that United are really coming into their own a little now, the players coming back from injuries, the players starting to understand the “philosophy” of Van Gaal and a bit of fight (coupled with the outstanding antics of a Spanish fella called David De Gea) have really turned our fortunes round a bit. There’s still along way to go…but I think they are starting to look alot better at the moment…lets see what January has in store.