After Chelsea, Everton, Tottenham and Manchester City dropped points last weekend, it was crucial that Manchester United secured all three on Sunday as they hosted league leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford.
The deficit to the Gunners could have been a massive eleven points but thanks to Robin van Persie's winner the gap was cut to five, and all looks rosey on the red side of Manchester.
Delve deeper and the problems still remain, problems that David Moyes identified as recently as September, according to the Telegraph, who claimed the United manager wanted to sign two more midfielders over the next two transfer windows.
Phil Jones was superb in breaking up Arsenal’s attacks until he was moved back to central defence when Nemanja Vidic was removed because of injury. Instead of £27.5million summer signing Marouane Fellani, it was Tom Cleverley who was chosen to partner Michael Carrick, a sign the ex-Everton player has failed to have the expected impact at Old Trafford.
Fellani was most effective as a forward battering ram for the Toffees, so it was surprising that Moyes not only dallied so long before signing the tall Moroccan but also that he was the only reinforcement over the summer. That indecision indicates Moyes knew Fellani was not exactly what he needed.
With Wayne Rooney, Van Persie, the emergence of Adnan Januzaj, resurgence of Antonio Valencia and reintegration of Shinji Kagawa, United look to have plenty of options going forward (that’s without even considering Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Nani and Ashley Young). However, in the middle of the park Moyes lacks options. That Jones was so outstanding is both a bonus and a cause for concern – Jones is a centre back and will surely end up there once Vidic and Ferdinand have moved on. That a bit of aggression, tenacity and physicality should stand out so much points to what exactly United are lacking.
Michael Carrick is a good passer and worked well with the more energetic Jones, but his partnership with Cleverley is more flimsy. Cleverley is yet to fully convince at the highest level, and while Ryan Giggs continues to defy the ageing effect the Welshman was never the most physical of players even in his pomp.
Moyes at least has found the best way to paper over the cracks for now, but he must enter the market for a midfielder in January, even if it is only a stop gap until a player of real quality becomes available in the summer.
Tottenham bought Paulinho, Cardiff captured Gary Medel, Man City signed Fernandinho, even Norwich paid out for Leroy Fer. All strong, physical midfielders who would have added to the United midfield. The players are out there, and Moyes should make sure he gets one in January.
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