Berbatov 2, Ji-Sung Park 23, Berbatov 27, Berbatov 47, Nani 48, Berbatov 62, Berbatov 70
BLACKBURN ROVERS 1
In becoming the fourth player to score five goals in a Premier League game, and the second for Manchester United, Dimitar Berbatov has got his season firmly back on track.
In not having found the net since his hat-trick against Liverpool, the Bulgarian seemed to have been suffering from a crisis of confidence. The work rate shown earlier in the season was gone, leaving him blaming his teammates around him as much as himself. The early goal in his encounter brought his early season confidence flooding back to him as his newly renewed partnership with Wayne Rooney looks to be coming to fruition for United at the right time.
In looking slightly sluggish midweek against Rangers, a goal has also brought the confidence streaming back into Rooney’s game. The England man started where he left off in the closing minutes against the Scottish champions in this encounter with his touch back to the standard he expects from himself and his movement some of the best seen since March. The combination between the front pairing was at times sublime, cutting through the Blackburn defence with ease. A telepathic understanding seemed to be developing between the pair who often have struggled to really hit top form when playing together. When Rooney dropped deep Berbatov led the line, both knowing exactly where the other was. The one touch passing developed between them since the off in this game was fantastic and fully merited the final scoreline.
Much of the plaudits will go to the front two, but the all around performance from United was way above the level which has become the norm for much of this season. The two wide players looked dangerous each time they were in possession with Nani especially giving Pascal Chimbonda an extremely testing afternoon. Whenever United attacked down the right flank, Nani had the beating of the French full-back turning him inside out for both early goals in the second half. For someone often criticised as inconsistent, the Portuguese is fast becoming one of United’s most consistent performers and biggest threats.
Sir Alex Ferguson was able to leave out one of United’s best performers this season, Paul Scholes, and was rewarded for the faith shown in Anderson. Having struggled with injury for much of this season, and throughout last season, Anderson has never really fulfilled the promise shown in his early United career. It would be too early to simply judge him on this one performance, but during this encounter he showed that he does have the ability to make an impact at Old Trafford. In picking the ball up deep and running powerfully at the Rovers backline, the Brazilian was a real threat for United. When bursting past a static Blackburn midfield, he pulled the defence into an awkward position, unsure of whether to hold their line or come out to meet him. This enabled gaps to appear between the centre-halves and full-backs which Anderson fully exploited with some sublime slide rule passing. It was his best performance of a stop-start season and one which all United fans will be hoping can be built on to ensure United still have the ability to control the midfield in the absence of Scholes.
United can enjoy a first class performance which has seen them go top of the Premier League, however, the hard work has to continue to ensure this level of performance is maintained throughout the rest of the campaign.
1 Van der Sar
21 Rafael – 15 Vidic – 5 Ferdinand – 3 Evra
17 Nani – 8 Anderson – 16 Carrick – 13 Park
10 Rooney – 9 Berbatov
64 – 23 Evans on for 15 Vidic
72 – 26 Obertan on for 13 Ji-Sung Park