Sunday, February 07, 2010

United dust Pompey's rubbing rags, as Berbatov shines...

The five-nil score-line didn't tell the whole story, but it didn't flatter United either, as the champions predictably secured a comfortable win over relegation certs Portsmouth.

However, in the early exchanges Saturday's visitors to Old Trafford could easily have taken the lead: Jonny Evans had to make a goal-line clearance from El Hadj with Edwin van der Sar beaten. But once again it was Wayne Rooney who opened the scoring five minutes before the interval with an easy header from a pin-point Darren Fletcher cross from United's right. While it was a good United goal, there were question marks about David James who failed to react in a bid to deny Rooney.

Vanden Borre deflected a Nani effort beyond David James to make it two-nil ahead of the break and once again the England stopper was beaten too easily. On what turned out to be a nightmare day for the Portsmouth defenders', they weren't helped a bit by their veteran 'keeper, whose reactions were that of a 46-year-old and not a 36-year-old.

From that point on, as a contest it was game over. Pompey conceded three second-half goals, Hughes deflected a good Michael Carrick drive into his own net on 59 minutes. Three minutes later, Dimitar Berbatov scored the goal of the game following a clever run that started deep inside the Portsmouth penalty area, Ben-Haim looked to have initially shadowed the Bulgarian to the relative safety of the edge of the visitors' box, but then elected to leave the United striker unmarked, the £30m man wasted no time as he drilled home a low curling effort beyond James.

It was a pretty good day for Berbatov who was the pick of the United team: if you give good players time and space they will punish you and that is exactly what happened. Berbatov had several 'eye-catching' moments, his goal was the pick of the bunch, but a second-half flick over the head of a Pompey defender to the feet of Nani inside the box ran it close. Rooney, Fletcher and Berbatov were replaced late on. Not surprisingly, the Bulgarian was given a standing ovation - which hasn't happened often enough since his big money move to United.

Mark Wilson had the indignity of scoring the fifth and what a beauty it was too, Patrice Evra crossed from the left and the Pompey defender thundered his well placed volley beyond James, in so doing scoring a genuine contender for own goal of the season.

On a day of embarrassment in and around the visitors' penalty area, it was left to new boy Diouf to miss an open goal after good work by Michael Owen.

It turned out to be an excellent day on and off the pitch, as the fans' Green and Gold campaign against the Glazers' gathers pace. The home fans could be heard singing anti Glazer songs throughout the contest and there was plenty of green and gold in the crowd.

On the day United went back to the top of the table, it wasn't a perfect weekend as far as our local rivals are concerned with Liverpool somewhat fortunately winning the Merseyside derby 1-0. But City lost again this time 2-1 at Hull, as their Carling Cup exit hangover continues: the travelling City fans could be heard singing "USA, USA, USA" at the KC Stadium, however, the same ironic chants were rammed down their bitter throats when Hull City's American striker Altidore opened the scoring which promptly led to the home fans singing "USA, USA, USA". Sweet.

6 comments:

  1. Ya, it was a perfect Saturday, the only thing that would have been better if all the goals were scored by United players, but we'll take the 5-0, thank you very much.

    Disappointed that Arsenal didn't put up that much of a fight today though, looks like it will be a contest with Chelsea for the last few weeks of this season then, let's see how it goes, as United seem to be gathering pace, much as the anti-Glazer movement is.

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  2. Uday,

    We could have done with LFC losing too, but yes United look to be in good form right now.

    There's one big worry on the horizon and that is if Rooney gets injured - but let's not go down that road.

    Arsenal simply don't have what it takes to beat the clubs. So yes it will be between us and Chelsea.

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  3. The second half of the season has always belonged to United, barring the season when we gave away a 12point gap to arsenal.

    We have finally hit full gear and for a change the 4-5-1 rapidly converting to 4-3-3 seems like working too.
    We are on track for the 19th,the only obstacle being chelsea. So here's hoping that Ancelotti keeps up his record of bottling the league in the final stages of the season.

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  4. Overthinker,

    Just a few weeks ago I was suggesting a strong second half of the season was looking unlikely, but they are proving me wrong - again - long may it cotinue.

    Not sure about Chelsea cracking up to be honest. At the start of the season they were my tip for the title and I haven't changed my view. They are collectively slightly stronger than United (quality strength depth), but if we can go on a long unbeaten run we can do it. Much will depend on Rooney and of course that back four that has at times creaked like an old barn door.

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  5. Chelsea are definitely stronger, look at their backup for central midfield (Mikel deputised excellently for Essien whom I hoped they would miss, but really aren't) and right-back (Ivanovic's performances are really putting Bosingwa's place in doubt), plus one more quality striker than United with Anelka partnering with Drogba.

    But they've dropped silly points almost as much as United have, so the deciding match will probably be when they meet later on, where Chelsea once again will be favourites due to superior squad depth, tactically, the teams line up extremely similarly now, but for with Anelka and Berbatov in similar roles against smaller teams, and Berbatov interestingly not even starting the important fixtures.

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  6. Uday,

    I think you're right on all points raised.

    Berbatov isn't a BIG game player, that much has been decided...but that's the big problem for Fergie: IF anything happens to Rooney we are up shit creek without a paddle.

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