Last weekend saw Manchester United romp 15 points clear of their dismantled and dispirited neighbours, for whom the mathematics is getting tougher day by day.
Although, United didn't have it all their own way, despite grinding out the result they did have their share of discomfort owing the result largely to the golden pairing of Vidic and Ferdinand at the back that happened to be in a frugal mood.
Ryan Giggs proved to be a funny customer on the night with some runs and bursts that defied his years, Danny Welbeck continues to be the same exciting package with a few edges awaiting some polish and furnish. Being the usual workhorse, Welbeck put up a diligent display but again left us wishing he had a more seasoned foot inside the final quarter.
Meanwhile the 4-3-3 in effect deployed by Sir Alex going forward didn’t work out for Van Persie who needs wingers to stretch out the game and open pocket of spaces for him to sniper from.
Vidic and Ferdinand proved to be the immovable boulders at the back giving De Gea not much to do as the Spaniard spent the night stifling yawns. Any incoming cross found Vidic waiting, licking his lips while Ferdinand rolled back the years to choke out every Reading raid to push them further up the pitch. Alex Buttner was reminiscent of Rafael in his devil may care days, making torpedo runs forward and indulging in rash challenges at the back.
He on many occasions was caught out of place and didn’t have the composure at the back to smother the wingers. However given his composed and confident demeanour at the back, Buttner might turn out to be a proud understudy to Evra.
The right wing also lacked a usual customer with Smalling filling in for Rafael and United were effectively less of a threat down that channel although the fact that they had a more square formation without a traditional winger should be kept in mind. Smalling was however a more assured presence at the back.
This match showcased United’s depth, which has been the underrated factor in their league drive. A bench with the likes of Kagawa, Cleverley, Hernandez, Carrick, Nani and Valencia surely mean United have more than just a plan B to come out and pivot the game the way they want to.
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