Young (pen) 72, Albrighton 76
MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Macheda 81, Vidic 85
Manchester United put in one of their worst performances of the season in a match which saw them lucky to achieve a draw.
In having Rio Ferdinand starting a consistent amount of games partnering Nemanja Vidic in the heart of the defence, United fans would be forgiven in thinking their team would achieve the kind of stability with which to build. This certainly wasn’t in evidence in a second half performance which saw them ripped to shreds by a rampant Aston Villa. Vidic was guilty of errors for both of Villa’s goals and despite saving his team in the dying stages, the Serbian will be extremely disappointed with his individual performance. Ferdinand performed better than his partner, but the England man must take some blame in the way the United back line was pulled apart with ease.
Both full-backs were torn apart by wingers with pace, with Wes Brown continually out of position and Patrice Evra struggling to cope with Marc Albrighton for the entirety of the encounter. Much of the difference between the two sides can be measured in the performance of the players in wide areas. Not only were the Red Devils’ full-backs guilty of a poor performance, the wide midfield players for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side fared little better. Both were wasteful when in possession of the ball and had little impact. Apart from an assist with a deep cross for Vidic’s equaliser Nani continually under-hit crosses both in open play and from set pieces. This is in stark contrast to the accurate balls swung in from wide areas by the Villain’s wide men.
United only posed any kind of attacking threat when replacing both forwards that started the game. Dimitar Berbatov appears to have lost the verve and energy which so captivated his performances earlier in the season. Following a good display in the derby which saw the Bulgarian work extremely hard in a difficult and lonely role his performance on Saturday suggested little in the way of work-rate. The former Tottenham man was also guilty of missing a great chance early in the first half which considering Villa’s lack of ambition before half time would have been likely to set United on the way to a comfortable victory. Javier Hernandez endured his most disappointing game for his new club, looking ineffective and struggling to hurt the opposition when in possession.
The only plus points for United were the desire and ability to grind out a result and the impact made by both Federico Macheda and Gabriel Obertan. Macheda has struggled so far this season, whereas in this encounter looked a threat and took his goal with the kind of composure shown previously against these opponents. Obertan is growing in confidence with some impressive recent performances, looking dangerous whenever in possession and running at the opposition. Ferguson will be pleased the gamble taken on the Frenchman looks to be paying off.
For all the criticisms against United, they still remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League. However, a real improvement in their form has to be achieved in order to gain those valuable three points away from home.
1 Van der Sar
6 Brown – 15 Vidic – 5 Ferdinand – 3 Evra
17 Nani – 24 Fletcher 16 Carrick – 13 Park
9 Berbatov – 14 Hernandez
73 – 26 Obertan on for 9 Berbatov
73 – Macheda on for 9 Berbatov
86 – 12 Smalling on for 13 Park