A clean sheet at last

Manchester United 0-0 West Ham United

This weekend’s game was a potentially tricky one as West Ham travelled to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.

We went into the game with another long term injury after Diafra Sakho was ruled out for 3 months with a thigh injury, who now joins the likes of Payet and Valencia. On Friday after the squad had trained, Lanzini was said to have picked up a knock and was therefore ruled out of the game on Saturday, so were left to have for another Argentine hero.

The 0-0 result was the first clean sheet the hammers have had in the last 9 games, which isn’t the best stat to have, but let’s hope we can use this one to put into future performances. Keeping a clean sheet can go a long way into helping the team secure a win.

James Tomkins who was once again brought in to play at right back had a brilliant game, keeping Martial, Mata under control. Over the other side Cresswell was also fantastic, after a slow start he seems to be getting back to his best form which is what won him the hammer of year prize last season. He was up and down that pitch more than any player during the game, and can be a very useful asset to have in the attacking area with his deadly crosses.

Two other performances that I thought were good came from Adrian in goal and also Andy Carroll up front. Adrian to be fair who didn’t have the most to do in the game still had to stay alert and not to lose concentration which he done so well as he pulled of a great save from close range after a Fellaini shot to keep the clean sheet intact.

Andy Carroll who I have been criticising a fair bit recently had a good game in my opinion, and I’d like to make the point of why and how we used him to get the best out of him. In previous games we have felt the urge to play long to him which in time makes it easy to defend against us. But for this game we didn’t see too much of this tactic, instead we were using his ability to hold and pass the ball at feet. As surprising as it may seem Carroll is better than most give him credit for in this area of the game. And if he stays in the team which is most likely given the striker injuries we have, I’d like to see us keep this tactic as well as the occasional long ball which can catch out even the best of defences.

A good bit of news from the injury scene is the first team return of Alex Song, he started his first BPL game of the season at Old Trafford and looked as if he had been playing for weeks. His personal performance really showed all the hard work we know he has been putting in off the pitch behind the scenes to get back to where he should and wants to be. Comfortable in possession and provided good cover for the defenders he was a real pain for the United players.

The only bad thing that I think has come from the game is the injury to Moses, he looked to have picked up a hamstring injury which could keep him out for several weeks, and could be a real shame for yet another one of our new and exciting signings.

Antonio who came on in his place would probably be his replacement, and he done very well coming off the bench, with more game time, premier league experience and match fitness we may just see the reasons the board decided to spend all that money on him during the summer transfer window.

Some other points to look at from the game are the few clear chances we had during the game. Going up against a defensive team like Manchester United we knew that when great chances came up we had to take them. Unfortunately that isn’t what we did, Moses had a chance through on goal with only De Gea to beat but hit the shot almost right at him which was disappointing as we know he has the ability to do much better.

Mauro Zarate had arguably our best chance of the game, as he was played in after the most delightful and accurate touches from Carroll who played the ball right between the red devils defenders. Again, Zarate only had De Gea to beat but dragged the shot terribly wide and another chance was lost.

West Ham also hit the same post twice in the first half, the first time came from a brilliant low cross which De Gea couldn’t keep hold off, which caused panic at the back for United and one of the defenders kicked the ball away which hit Zarate in the face and then hit the post, happened so quickly that there was no way the Argentine could’ve reacted to head it into the net. The other came directly from a corner, as Reid met it with a solid contact but that bit of luck we are lacking at the moment meant it hit the bottom of the post yet again.

One other bit of action that involved Winston Reid again, brought a controversial moment as Bastian Schweinsteiger appeared to elbow the New Zealander in the face, and the referee failed to even brandish a yellow card for the German player.

Player ratings

Adrian 9/10
Tomkins 9/10
Reid 10/10
Ogbonna 8/10
Cresswell 9/10
Noble 8/10
Song 8/10
Kouyate 8/10
Moses 7/10   Antonio7/10
Carroll 8/10
Zarate 8/10

Man of the match

As you can see by the player ratings there can be only one man of the match, and deservedly this week that goes to Winston Reid with a perfect 10/10 rating and a perfect performance not putting a foot wrong all game. He was in the correct position all game, whether it was blocking shots, intercepting passes. Reid read pretty much everything that Manchester United tried to do. That’s now the second brilliant game he has had in Manchester this season after and equally impressive game against United’s bitter rivals Manchester City.

Without a win in 5 games now, it is so important that we win next week at home to Stoke City, a team that is in a direct battle with is for them top 6-8 places in the league. Hopefully we see Lanzini back for that game, and start to put together a good run of results with a favourable set of fixtures coming up over the Christmas break.

 

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