So, it was November where United in my opinion have started to look more and more dangerous and are playing like a team.
November was going to be a tough month for Manchester United as they were to play against one of their biggest rivals and noisy neighbours Manchester City who are going well in the league in 2nd place and Arsenal who are also doing quite well, with Sanchez proving a top buy for them.
The big game to start off November was the Manchester Derby, and going into this years derby, giving the past couple of seasons where City have had the upper hand, along with United’s up and down start to the season, I think it would be fair to say, we were the underdogs. From the very start of the game City controlled the possession and had a number of decent chances, against yet another back-four for United (the injury crisis at United is almost laughable and I think it is fair to say we could have an almost full strength team of injured players at times!) who managed to weather the storm quite well. Until Smalling’s silly first yellow and ridiculous second yellow which lead to be to down to 10 men with only 35 mins gone. Against a team like City it’s hard enough with 11 men but to be down to 10 for the majority of the game was going to be very very hard for United.
Credit where credit’s due though, United battled very hard at the back, we couldn’t play the attacking substitutions which we would have liked, and Rojo went off Injured with a dislocated shoulder, however in the 63rd minute, Sergio Aguero did what he does best and slotted home a nice finish past De Gea. 1-0 to City, and still 30 mins of the game left to play. I think at this point the City fans thought that the flood gates would open and City would run home with another couple of goals (which was possible if it wasn’t for a couple of vital saves from De Gea yet again). A couple of penalty decisions could also of gone City’s way on another day but that’s football and it all evens itself out over the season. However in my opinion given the relentless pressure we faced man-down and the 1-0 score line I think United could have easily sneaked a point or even (and probably not deservedly) snook a win with good chances to Robin Van Persie and Adnan Janujaz.
Final result – 1-0 City, even though we lost, given the circumstances, I can’t really complain with A, the result or B, the performance. I’ll say it again, with a full strength United team (Falcao was again not available for this game, and Rooney’s first game back after suspension) the result and game could of gone our way. It certainly proved we have gained some character and fight back, last season when the going got tough we would roll over. This year we stand up and ride it out alot more. I for one and really looking forward to the return leg!
Not the best start to November then?! Certainly not, but positives to be taken for sure, apart from the dislocated shoulder Rojo suffered, which would mean he wasn’t able to play in the Crystal Palace game, which would lead to yet ANOTHER back-four for United. Going into the Crystal Palace game saw Blind play his first game in the back-four for United and this showed his versatility as he played well, although nothing stand-out in a rather lack-luster performance from United. Only a goal from Juan Mata coming off the bench helped United to 3 points against a team we should be beating comfortably.
With the Arsenal game coming up next, this was a crucial 3 points for United and if we could cause an upset at the Emirates then November could end up being quite a positive month for United, and would see us move into the top 4. One spanner in the work was that during the international break Daley Blind who has been showing just how well he is fitting into his role at United was to suffer a Knee injury which meant that, yet again, yes you have guessed it United would need to play another back-four/three at the back.
Upset? Sorry that sounded like we were the underdogs again, I think confidence is growing a little more then I let on there. We went to the Emirates expecting to get something out of the game, we were unlucky against City and got a result against Chelsea, so we could definitely get a result here, although it would be very tough too.
The game started with Arsenal controlling the game in all aspects, the kept possession, created multiple chances and yet again if it wasn’t for David De Gea, who is without doubt United stand-out player this season the scoreline could of favoured Arsenal by 2 or 3 clear goals. United again playing another formation back to 3 at the back with Blackett and McNair the chosen centre backs this time, rode their luck and began to grow into the game. Score-line at half time 0-0 and with the possession stats 70%-30% in favour of Arsenal, we did well to get through unscathed. The second half brought a bit of normality back to United game and they slowly started to get a foothold back in the match, although Arsenal still controlled possession it was United who created the better chances and it was a ball into the area from Antonio Valencia that was turned in by Kieran Gibbs (own goal), which gave United the lead, against the run of play. Arsenal made a couple of substitutions and this provided them with a little more pace and again they threatened the United goal, but the defence held firm and a break from Angel Di Maria and through ball to Rooney who slotted the ball into the back of the net gave United that all Important second goal.
Unfortunately for us, Oliver Geroud scored an absolute screamer on 90 mins and with 8 mins of injury time to play due to injuries to Luke Shaw (yes that’s another to add to the list) and Jack Wilshere, the game wasn’t over and a late barrage from Arsenal kept us all on our toes until the final whistle blew. I have to admit a few beers we sunk after that result (plus we were having a thanksgiving dinner at the lacrosse club afterwards).
Our last November fixture was against Hull, and to be honest there is not a whole lot to say about this game, it was a game we were expected to win, and win we did. Louis Van Gaal described it as our “best” performance of the season so far, we controlled the game from start to finish, we scored 3 goals, Rojo returned from Injury and played the full game and Falcao made his first sub appearance from the bench after quite a long lay off with injury, this was a good sight to see.
The negative from this game (as if you couldn’t make it up) Angel Di Maria limped off after 14mins with a hamstring injury! Yes another injury, but that wasn’t it, as Rooney limped off at the end aswell. It just gets better and better with the injury crisis at United at the moment and it really is hampering us putting out a full strength squad but the most important part of the Hull game was we dominated, created chances and finished them. Lets hope December is a better month injury wise.
To wrap up November, after a bad start against City, United came back strong with 9 points from the 4 games in November, this took us into 4th place in the Premiership, gave us some much needed confidence and showed that United is certainly going in the right direction. Positives points are that Rojo and Falcao are now back in the mix, along with Herrera who has also only just returned from Injury. Fellaini is really showing up and putting in some performances for us. David De continues to shine and Van Persie scored his first goal in a long time to give him a much needed confidence boost. Negatives are that Angel Di Maria Rooney and Shaw all join the injury list and we can’t get a consistent team out (especially at the back) week in week out making it very hard for David De Gea in goal. I stick by my word, when we start playing better football as a team, as there is still much room for improvement, and we have a full strength squad to play with, we will be up there at the end of the year without a doubt.
December starts with a home game against Stoke City, who took 4 points off us last year, I am confident that this year will be different. Come on United!