Monday, September 18, 2006

Papering over the cracks...

I have a reputation for being something of a 'Doomlord', because as with many things in my life, my glass is always half-empty, as opposed to half-full. At least that is how some people describe me.

The maxim isn't actually true where United are concerned. Reason being, I'd like to believe my views are balanced regarding the good and bad points about our performances.

At the outset before a ball was kicked this season, I predicted United would get off to a good/flying start. They did. However, as I have been pointing out in recent games, the back four has looked decidedly dodgy. But against Arsenal, it was the midfield that was none existent. So why did this happen?

Arsenal adopted a more fluent formation and flooded the midfield. Quite simply, United's midfield couldn't cope with the Gunners passing and movement. All too often Scholes and O'Shea were out numbered. The Arsenal midfield were able to play through our midfield too easily.

It wasn't just numbers that United lacked, it was legs too. Arsenal had Fabregas, Hleb and Silver. Arsenal's superior drive, energy and quick passing was what led to United's undoing.

United have been relying on Giggs and they'll be hoping Scholes comes good for the remainder of the season, but does he have the legs to cope for a whole season?

It wasn't just midfield where the problems lay against Arsenal, Rooney isn't fit and putting it bluntly, he's been a passenger in the last two games, he's been losing the ball too cheaply and isn't working hard enough for the team.

United are of course joint second with Chelsea - not a bad position to be in - we could be Liverpool near the foot of the table, but no one with a grain of sense should write-off Liverpool.

So what about the rest of the season? United should do well against most sides out of the top four, but as we've already seen, even against Watford, we can take nothing for granted. This is going to be a very, very tough season for United. A top four finish is possible, but it is by no means guaranteed.

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