Finally we are back after the usual dull international break. The only good news since our last game is the acquisition of Maroune Fellaini from Everton for £27.5m. The big haired Belgian was expected to start today but he will have to wait for his debut as he only makes the bench. United lined up with their usual 4-3-3 formation with Carrick and Anderson the central midfeilders and Rooney and Young the front two supporting RVP up front.
United started brightly. Carrick unleashing a shot from the edge of the box that moves in the air, Speroni doid well to keep an eye on it and fist the ball away. United continued to press and should have had a penalty after Patrice Evra was bundled over in the area. Palace were living dangerously trying to play it out of their final third, but United seemed intent to make a statement after their recent poor results and were putting every Palace player under pressure on the ball. Fabio started brightly pushing forward and winning a few corners, you wouldn’t be able tell the difference between him and Rafael it wasn’t for the name on the shirt.
Rooney, with his fashionable headband, was trying to create an opening. He really is brilliant in the number 10 position roaming all over the pitch to get involved in the game. In the 19th minute Ashley Young was booked for simulation, a terrible decision by the ref. Young went around the defender, who stuck a lazy leg out, and Young was caught. His reputation clearly proceeds him and maybe the dramatic way he went down didn’t help his cause. If you are going to fall over just fall over, don’t arch your back and flail your arms in the air. Thankfully the penalties we should have had didn’t come back to haunt us.
United were in absolute control of the game and De Gea could have brought his deck chair along and relaxed such was his involvement. However for all the possession and territory, we hadn’t made a clear cut opportunity. Young seemed like a player revitalised, time and time again using great skill to beat his man and get the ball in the area. United’s onslaught slowed after half an hour and Palace began to get on the ball more. United were never in any danger however and the visitors were merely getting in the way rather than threatening to score.
The United fans seemed to be getting restless and the frustration was tangible in the atmosphere. United were being wasteful in the final 3rd and as a result Palace were growing in confidence and beginning to string a few passes together. United came to life after a quiet period, RVP trying an audacious back heel from a Patrice Evra cross. However his shot went wide of the near post. The best chance of the half came 5 minutes later when a brilliant ball over the top from Rooney was chested down and volleyed first time by RVP onto the cross bar. Reminiscent of the goal of the season he scored against Villa. United continued to press and a great ball in by Ashley Young was inches to high for Wayne Rooney to reach. United needed to capitalise on this good spell and get a goal before half time.
The danger of not taking your chances in the premier league nearly showed as some wonderful play by Dwight Gayle, taking the ball down and leaving Ferdinand for dead in one touch, led him through on goal. The former Peterborough man tried to dink the ball over De Gea from a tight angle and almost found the net, inches wide.
Them the game turned on its head thanks to some fantastic play by Ashley Young. He got in front of his man and drove forward only to be clumsily pulled down by Dikgacoi. At first it looked like the challenge was outside the box but the referee took his time and pointed to the spot. Dikgacoi was sent off as a result for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. RVP stepped up to slot the ball cooly into the bottom corner for a deserved first half lead.
In my opinion this incident was the least likely to be a penalty after the former appeals from Evra and Young. I still don’t think Young was in the area when the foul was made but we deserved a penalty earlier in the game, and Young shouldn’t have been booked for diving, so maybe it was karma making a quick turn around for our sake.
The second half started just as you’d expect – With Manchester United firmly in control. Not many clear cut chances were carved out by the home side though, justifying many fans’ shouts for Shinji Kagawa.
Then came the moment we were all waiting for. Marouane Fellaini made his debut alongside the Belgian youngster Adnan Januzaj, and they had thirty minutes to make a difference. The duo certainly had an impact on the game, Marouane Fellaini bossed the midfield alongside Carrick and picked passes with ease. Adnan Januzaj looks at home on the Old Trafford turf already – quite frankly, he made it look effortless.
It was the young Januzaj who set up the second goal, he won the free-kick which Wayne Rooney duly tucked home with just under ten minutes left. All three points were wrapped up, Moyes bagged his first Old Trafford win, and we witnessed two excellent debuts. All-round a great day for United fans when you factor in the results of our closest rivals.