Today’s game seen the reds take on Norwich away at Carrow Road. With our recent form and Norwich’s lack of it, we could only see one outcome surely? However with Valencia suspended, Jones and Robin van Persie still out injured and Rooney left out of the squad nursing a groin injury, things were made harder than they should’ve been.
The game started well with united enjoying over 70% possession in the first 15 minutes, but with little penetration to the Norwich goal. As the first half developed Norwich grew in confidence with Snodgrass, Martin, Hooper and Hoolahan all contributing with varying degrees of success to Norwich onslaught to the United goal. Were it not for a couple of decent saves from De Gea and blocks from Vidic and Evans the half time score line could have been different from the 0-0. United’s first shot on target came in the 44th minute from Hernandez and from an impossible angle on the left hand side and was easily smuggled up by Ruddy.
Giggs failed to impress, Kagawa again failed to provide any impetus or penetration through to the isolated Hernandez, and Carrick looked a yard of the pace of the game with a lack of match fitness. Our defence was holding up well apart from Evra who struggled to deal with the pace of Snodgrass throughout the first half. Something had to change at half time to ensure united gained anything from the game.
One thing that has changed with Moyes recently is he is willing to make changes when needed. Welbeck was brought on for Giggs to add some speed to our game. Hopefully ‘dithering Dave’ is a thing of the past.
The second half began much like the first with United enjoying the lions share of possession again with little glory, however the introduction of Welbeck enabled Kagawa to sit a little deeper and provide balls through to Young who shown a couple glimpses of why Fergie signed him, but still not enough.
Thankfully the breakthrough was made in the 57th minute when Welbeck charged down a Norwich clearance and pounced on the rebound, brought the ball around the keeper and slotted the ball into the bottom corner from close range. 1-0 United.
From then on with United growing in confidence and Norwich tiring, the reds controlled the second half. One concern will be how cheaply we gave the ball away on occasions where a better side may have punished us. This can be attributed to Carrick’s obvious rustiness. Januzaj was brought on for Kagawa and some more much needed game time for Fletcher in the place of Hernandez who again provided very little. Both failed to make any major impact on the game in the short time they had.
Ultimately this was a scruffy victory, but a victory none the less. Something on occasions we have been unable to do this season (Southampton and West Brom spring to mind among others). The evident lack of depth in the squad may be a worry however, with Welbeck finding form, Fletcher getting some game time, and the prospect of Rooney and RVP returning, as well as potential signings, the new year looks (a little) brighter for Manchester United.
Final score Norwich City 0 – 1 Manchester United (Welbeck 57th Minute)
This piece was written by Patrick Hickey, follow him on Twitter here.