Hey there and welcome back to yet another issue of Manchester United Monthly! This issue we will be evaluating our performances in September, with some big games
against Arsenal and Tottenham. We headed into this month winning one game, drawing one game and losing one game, putting us 11th in the league, hoping to get back
on track to our 'top four finish' that we're hoping for this season. Enough of me rambling now, let's go and see how we performed this September!
Games: Newcastle(H), Arsenal(A), Tottenham(A), Stoke(H).
Game 1: Manchester United vs Newcastle
The first game of the month saw Newcastle travel South to face us at Old Trafford. One major piece of team news was that Robin van Persie was set to start up front as Radamel Falcao failed to pass his fitness test before the game and had to settle for a place on the Manchester United bench. Newcastle however adopted a more defensive formation, with Cheick Tiote coming in for Sissoko. United knew that they needed all three points from this game to build up momentum for their next game against Arsenal.
Newcastle earnt the rights to kick the game off and for the first couple of minutes, they looked a strong and disciplined unit, with accurate passes being placed around the pitch and whenever they lost possession, they immediately tried to win it back. Newcastle came here with a game plan that was to simply try and pressure United off the ball and hit them on the break. The game finally started to settle down, with United taking control of most of the possession within the first ten minutes of the game.
However, just thirteen minutes in the game, United got their first goal. Some neat play from Angel Di Maria found the run of Robin van Persie, who showed glimpses of his former self as he turned swiftly passed his man and looked up to find any free team-mates making their way into the six yard box, eventually, he had to change his mind and play a short ball to Rooney, who flicked it forward towards Valencia, and after a couple of step-over, the 29 year old played the ball towards the far post where Adnan Januzaj
was able to divert the ball past Krul and into the back of the net. A great start from the young Belgian who has really kicked off his season to a flyer.
And just four minutes later, the ball was in the back of the Newcastle net again, this time is was a much easier route to goal. United caught Tiote napping as Rooney won possession on the half-way line and the United skipper played the ball towards Di Maria, who neatly returned the ball and Rooney was off on his trademark run, weaving past two Newcastle midfielders before making his way to the edge of the box, and instead of going for glory, Rooney threaded the ball through towards van Persie
, who simply curled the ball past Krul and into the back of the net. A great goal by van Persie but credit is due for Rooney after his run to set up van Persie.
Rooney's pass found van Persie who was confident enough to slot the ball past Krul.
The second half begun, with Newcastle now adopting a much more attacking approach. Cabella was sent to play behind the front two to give more of a chance going forward, however they struggled to get through Phil Jones as the England international produced a world-class sliding tackle to prevent Cabella from going into the final third. Jones had a solid first half and looked even more pumped for this half as he was organising the back four, which has not happened since the departure of Nemanja Vidic last season. Yet another attack came from Newcastle but Martinez and Jones were able to stop any danger from forming.
And just as Newcastle were growing into the game, United made it three to seal off the game as yet again Tiote was lazy in possession after he panicked and misplaced his pass towards Cisse. Di Maria gained possession and used his pace to surge past the broken Newcastle midfield. He played it forward towards van Persie, who held up the ball nicely and fed Januzaj into the vacant left wing position. The young Belgian took on Janmaat and drilled a low cross towards van Persie
, and taking a nice first touch, placed the ball under Krul to make it 3-0 and all but seal up a very one sided game. Another great assist from Januzaj but Di Maria was the key player in that attack.
The final whistle was blown and United recorded another 3-0 win at home this season, showing that they have become a lot stronger at Old Trafford than they did last season. This win is vital for United as it gives them much needed confidence for their next game, that being a trip to London to face their bitter rivals Arsenal, which will see the return of Danny Welbeck, who left the club this summer in a sixteen million pound move to the Emirates after van Gaal had no place for him in the squad.
Game 2: Arsenal vs Manchester United
This was it. The big one. Arsenal against Manchester United at the Emirates, with peoples old and new ready to battle, it made for a fiesty affair. United confirmed that Radamel Falcao had passed his fitness test and the Colombian was set to start against Arsenal. van Gaal also named Daley Blind in the midfield to sit infront of the defence. Arsenal gave Danny Welbeck his start against his former club, and after van Gaal comments about the England international, he wanted to prove the Manchester United manager wrong by scoring against his former club. It was the second major game in Manchester United's season so far, and a win here would really give them
confidence about gaining a top four position.
United kicked off, with the crowd at the Emirates in good spirits, the first few minutes were intense and fast paced with both teams really taking the game to each other. Arsenal had most of the possession, with Ramsey being their main play-maker in midfield. United had a game plan though, with Fellaini man-marking Ramsey to stop him from receiving the ball. This left the Welshman very frustrated as he got himself a needless yellow card after a clumsy challenge on Fellaini as he was trying to win the ball back. Arsenal carved out a half chance however, but Welbeck wasted it as he fired well over David de Gea's goal.
United took the lead however, with a swift counter attack. Ozil lost possession and Valencia was able to run with the ball down the right side, leaving Gibbs exposed as Ozil didn't track back to help defend this attack. Rafael over-lapped Valencia and he received the ball, advancing into the box, he cut the ball back to Valencia
and the 29 year old struck a low effort underneath the arms of Szczesny and into the back of the net. A great attacking goal from United but you have to question Mesut Ozil's commitment tracking back, as the goal came from Gibbs trying to defend against two attackers which he failed to do meaning that United's right sided players were able to set-up the goal.
And a few minutes later, United scored again after some more good work on the right by Valencia, he found enough space to put in a killer cross towards Falcao
, and the Colombian was free in the box to steady himself before dispatching the ball past Szczesny and into the back of the net. Arsenal's defending was dreadful as they were not marking Falcao closing enough, and giving a player of his calibre that much time in the box, he was surely going to put United 2-0 up before the first half ended.
Falcao had enough time to get his angles correct as he curled the ball past Szczesny.
The second half began, with Arsenal now adopting a much more attacking approach, which pleased the fans after they booed off their team when the first half drew to a close. Ramsey was still getting man-marked by Fellaini, as the Belgian kept winning the ball off the 24 year old which made for a bad day in the office for the midfielder. Welbeck was no where to be seen in the first half, and again he failed to control a long pass as David de Gea smothered the ball after Welbeck's touch took the ball back to his former team-mate.
Arsenal, however, did claw a goal back after Sanchez did some fine work on the wings and was able to cut inside. The Chilean then looked up and swung in a delightful ball to the back post where substitute Giroud
, who came on for Welbeck, was waiting and the French international had no problems heading the ball past de Gea to give Arsenal a glimmer of hope heading into the final 20 minutes of the game. United needed to be more positive in their play instead of allowing Arsenal to attack them like that.
But it was just not Arsenal's day as the referee blew the whistle for full time with Louis van Gaal winning his second game this month against one of their biggest rivals in the league. A very good performance from United today, with some great attacking play on show. Valencia and Falcao impressed massively today, but you have to credit Fellaini for his brilliant work stopping Ramsey in the centre of Arsenal's midfield.
Game 3: Tottenham vs Manchester United
Next was United's Capital One Cup tie against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, which was another chance for some of United's 'back-up' players to take centre stage and show the manager and staff what they can do on the pitch, or so the fans thought as van Gaal named a very strong starting eleven which shows his ambition and determination to win one of England's 'lesser trophies' this season. Spurs matched United's team as they also named a very strong eleven, making this more of a Premier League match than a Capital One Cup one.
United kicked off, and immediately were on the attack, catching Tottenham’s full-backs sleeping as Di Maria was able to weave past Dier and play a low ball into the centre where van Persie was waiting but the Dutchman failed to connect with the ball properly as it curled wide of the post. A very positive start from van Gaal’s men as they try to get the early goal to set the tempo of the game.
United took the lead very early on though, with Rooney
grabbing the first goal of the game. The United skipper linked up nicely with Di Maria as the Argentine flicked the ball through a pocket in the Tottenham defence. Rooney then latched back onto the ball and measured up his angles whilst holding off the challenge of Vertonghen. The England international then fired the ball past the arms of Lloris and it struck the back of the net.
And just a couple minutes later, United were 2-0 up, this time in-form forward van Persie
was the goal scorer. The Dutchman was a main part in United’s attack, with Di Maria again stretching out the Tottenham defence and was able to find Rooney who was positioned on the edge of the box. The skipper did a fake shot to fool the Tottenham defenders, before playing it towards van Persie who struck the ball with his weaker right foot and Lloris was unable to claw it away making it 2-0 in a space of 7 minutes.
van Persie’s strike with his weaker right foot beat Lloris at his near post to double United’s lead.
Tottenham were able to pull a goal back mid-way through the second half, with Lamela weaving past Fletcher and finding the run of Townsend, who outpaced Danilo and drilled a low cross into the six yard box which Jones tried to hook away, but instead he diverted the ball to the feet of Adebayor
, who simply curled the ball past the out-stretched palm of David de Gea to give Spurs a glimmer of hope heading into the final quarter of the game.
United were starting to fall back in numbers, with Spurs throwing all they had at the back four. Lamela played in Chadli who was brought down by Shaw in the box. The referee pointed to the spot much to the annoyance of United as they clearly thought that Chadli had dived. Adebayor stepped up and struck the ball low and hard towards the bottom corner but David de Gea pulled off a remarkable save to keep United in the lead.
And with just two minutes to go, United sealed their victory with another goal. Valencia
was the scorer this time. The winger was very lively down the right and exploited the tired legs of Tottenham’s full-backs and he sprinted towards the corner flag. He played it back to Danilo who had also advanced up the pitch and the Brazilian threaded a perfectly weighted pass back to Valencia who easily slotted past Lloris to make it 3-1 and seal the victory that sees Manchester United head into the next round of the Capital One Cup.
Game 4: Manchester United vs Stoke
The final game of the month saw Stoke travel to Old Trafford hoping to gate-crash United’s perfect month. A win here for United would mean that they will have won four games out of four and take them up to second in the league. van Gaal named a similar starting eleven to the one which defeated Tottenham 3-1 whereas Stoke named an unchanged line-up from their previous match against Aston Villa. United looked favourites to win but Stoke have performed very well so far this season.
Stoke kicked off, with them adopting a more defensive approach, passing it around the back for the first few minutes, with Adam controlling the midfield for The Potters. Stoke tried to release the pace of Diouf but Jones was able to intercept the attempted pass and the England international regained possession for United as they went about their usual business by trying to carve out an opportunity against a strong Stoke defence.
Things went bad for United however, with Alex Sandro getting a straight red card for a horrible two footed challenge on Sidwell which gave the referee no alternative but to send the Brazilian off meaning United were down to ten men for the rest of the game. van Gaal brought Daley Blind on for Juan Mata so the Dutch international could fill the vacant left back position meaning United has less attackers as Mata offered width down the right which was taken away due to the substitution.
The rest of the half was uneventful, with Stoke trying their best to carve out a chance but the United defence were able to turn defence into attack and almost scored as Di Maria was released by Jones’ pass, and the winger was able to pick out a perfect pass to Januzaj, who flicked the ball down to van Persie
, and the Dutch forward was able to slot the ball past Begovic to give United the lead as the first half drew to a close.
van Persie’s strike past Begovic gave United the lead just as the first half drew to a close.
The second half kicked off, with Stoke doing their best to level up the game by taking advantage of having an extra player on the pitch. United however, were not showing any signs of backing down as they tried to advance up the pitch whenever possible. The question was simple, would van Gaal try and keep playing positive or would he revert to parking the bus for the rest of the game due to having ten men on the pitch?
van Gaal answered that question with style as Adnan Januzaj
was able to break away from his man and run down the right side of the pitch, linking up with Rooney as they both surged through a broken Stoke defence. Rooney dribbled past another Stoke defender and saw Januzaj in space, picking him out and the young Belgian registered yet another goal this season as he volleyed past Begovic to make it 2-0 United, even with ten men United were still looking strong.
And to seal the game off, van Persie was fouled on the edge of the box, and the Dutchman stepped up to take the free-kick, which preferred him to Rooney
as it was mainly for a left footed player. The forward measured up his angles correctly as he curled the ball around the wall and past Begovic to make it 3-0 United and finished the game off in style as The Red Devils recorded their first winning streak in a month since Sir Alex Ferguson retired two seasons ago.
Our undefeated month sees us climb up the table to second place, which makes for a much better reading than it did last month. We're now just two points from first where Chelsea currently are, and with some 'easier' games to come in October, we should be able to leapfrog Jose Mourinho's Blues and head up to the summit of the league for the first time this season. Also, our goal difference has massively improved since last month, which makes for an even better reading.
Player of the Month
Robin van Persie
The Dutchman has been in fine form this month, notching up a total of 5 goals! He may be getting on a little and be facing lots of competition from Rooney and Falcao, but his performances
this month clearly show that he still has ability in his locker. Hopefully this emergance of form will carry through into the next few months as we need all our forwards scoring goals if we
want to push for a place in the Champions League next season.