A good game to watch for the neutral, yet a difficult game to watch as a United fan, as United faced West Ham for the 4th time this season.
Back in January, the reds visited Upton Park for the FA Cup 3rd round tie but had to be saved by RVPs late goal to earn a 2-2 draw. Roll the clock forward and the same was true. United started slow. But credit is due to West Ham, they really started fast and came at us hard.
They took the lead early on when Matt Jarvis crossed with his left towards Andy Carroll, whose header was into the path of Ricardo Vaz Te for the opening goal. Following the goal, United began to play a bit better. Kagawa, starting his 2nd consecutive match from the left, was instrumental throughout. In the 31st minute, following some good work by RVP, the Japanese playmaker went on a lovely run to make lots of space. He dribbled to the byline and cooly passed to Antonio Valencia who couldn’t miss from 2 yards out.
Before the break, West Ham pressed again but Andy Carroll decided to attack our goalkeeper, David de Gea, instead of the ball. it certainly riled Fergie on the touchline. An act of sheer brutality which de Gea did well to stand up to. The young keeper really showing his improvement at dealing with the physicality of the league once again.
As the second half began, it was West Ham who had the upper hand again, although the United defence didn’t seem as likely to be breached as it had in the opening exchanges. But after 55 minutes, it took a Mohammed Diame strike from distance to bend around 3 united players past the unsighted de Gea, and United had it all to do again.
But do it again they did. Again with some more lovely footwork by Kagawa, he took a shot at goal only to see it Canon off the post. The ball fell straight into the path of the waiting Robin van Persie who calmly tucked the ball into the roof of the net for 2-2.
After that it was mainly United who were pressing, and we could have taken the lead when substitute Ryan Giggs crossed towards our resident poacher, Javier Hernandez who was waiting to tuck the ball past Jaaskelainen when Andy Carroll made a last ditch clearance.
David de Gea: Couldn’t have done much about the goals. Showed his improvement against the physicality of West Ham who put in a lot of crosses. Took a very heavy blow as Andy Carroll thundered in before half time. 6/10
Rafael: Not his best game defensively but was always an option going forward. Worked well with Valencia down the right. 6/10
Rio Ferdinand: Originally looked like he may struggle with the pace and power of West Ham but used his experience well to repel their attacks. 6/10
Nemanja Vidic: Starting his 2nd game in 3 days alongside Rio was a bonus. Took some time to get into the game but seemed to relish the physical battle against Andy Carroll. Finished the game with bad bruising so I imagine we won’t see him until the Arsenal game. 7/10
Patrice Evra: Had a lot to do down the left today as Kagawa was allowed to drift in. Not his greatest game and allowed Andy Carroll to get above him for the opening goal. Always plays better with a winger to overlap in my opinion. 6/10
Antonio Valencia: That’s more like it! Got his first goal of the season after over a year since his last (that goal v Blackburn). Seemed to give him a bit of confidence. Bombed down the right and put in crosses. It reminded me a player we used to have… More of that please Antonio. 7/10
Phil Jones: 3 games, 3 starts, 3 different positions. A surprise starter in midfield after Cleverley was overlooked again. Put in there to help with the defensive side of the game but it wasn’t his best performance. Hope to see him as centre back on Monday. 5/10
Michael Carrick: Contender for player of the year but not for Man of the Match. Not his finest performance, passing was a little off in the first half. 6/10
Shinji Kagawa: Great game! Showed fantastic footwork and ball retention. Passes the ball with lovely delicacy and finds pockets of space. Set up both goals and was sadly replaced for Hernandez as United went for the win. Showing why United signed him and getting the haters off his back. Moved into the middle after Rooney was replaced and made the 2nd goal.8/10
Wayne Rooney: The roller coaster season continues. After a great Midfield Maestro performance at stoke, it was the anonymous Rooney that came today. Never a threat to West Ham and was replaced by Giggs. 5/10
Robin van Persie: Back amongst the goals again, despite a hint of offside. Took it well. Had chances but was thwarted by Jaaskelainen in the West Ham goal time and time again. 7/10
Ryan Giggs: Came on for Rooney and played on the left, allowing Kagawa to play in his favoured role. Brought a natural width to the left and almost set up Hernandez for the winner. 6/10
Javier Hernandez: Had a couple of chances, the best was blocked last minute by Carroll. 6/10
A performance that left United fans concerned, but in reality both teams showed enough to win it. A draw probably a fair result. We are still on course to win the title at the Emirates, with 2 wins needed to bring home the trophy. However if Spurs beat City at the weekend, a win on Monday night at villa will see us regain our crown. 4 points from Stoke and West Ham away certainly isn’t a bad return.