- It was a hard fought and crucial win for United at Old Trafford, against a West Ham side which defended deep and en-masse during the first fifty minutes of the match until they conceded the only goal of the game: a header by Dawson who put in his own goal from a Fernandes corner. It was what United deserved because they were the only team that wanted to win the match, with Moyes deploying his team to defend and closing all spaces for United. After that goal, West Ham changed shape and personnel and started to make a game out of it. Apart from a couple of skirmishes in the United box, it was the home team who had the best chances and could have added a couple of goals to the score line had it not been for Fabianski, who kept his team in the match with a few saves. With Chelsea, Everton, Villa, Spurs and now West Ham all losing points during the weekend, these three points for United are significant in their quest of finishing in the top four positions and secure Champions League football for next season. United are now 9 points ahead of fifth position in the table, which incidentally are West Ham, despite the latter having a game in hand. With nine matches to go, that has to be considered as an important lead. We’re in for an exciting season-ending period during the coming two months, particularly if we’re still in the cups by the start of May.
- Some pundits are always ready to pick on United when we play less quoted teams and the latter are set on the pitch to defend the nil-nil score line and make it difficult for United to forge ahead. Some teams really defend well and put bodies behind the ball and it’s not the first time that we lost points against such teams this season because we do not manage to break them down. United are criticised that we don’t have enough players to create openings like City have, which may be true, particularly with Pogba injured at the moment. The other side of the coin though is that when we play two holding midfielders in front of our back-four, United have grown into a stubborn team and are very difficult to break down. What I liked today and in other matches is that when we need to defend – please consider that West Ham are fifth in the table – we do it without panic or haphazardly. To the contrary, led my Maguire, the team defends as one unit, presses the ball carrier at all times and our defenders rarely clear the ball uselessly up the field. Maguire has been excellent in the last few months – not considering the miss against Milan in mid-week – and he time and again puts his body on the line to block shots from opponents. Costing £80 million does not help but aside from the fee, his performance have been consistently good in my opinion.
- With Cavani and Martial both injured, Ole decided to give the number nine role to Mason Greenwood against West Ham and the youngster repaid the faith shown in him with an excellent performance, despite not finding the net yet again. Mason worked hard without the ball and was always trying to create space for himself in the West Ham area. It has been a while since he scored but he’s getting closer and closer. Mason twice hit the woodwork against the Hammers, once in the first half when Fabianski turned his goal-bound shot against the post and in the second half, when he ran half pitch and fired a low shot that hit the post again with Fabianski well beaten. The way he performed today, I can see Mason starting again in the centre forward position against Milan in mid-week, where United have to score at least once to progress to the quarter finals of the Europa League. Can Mason find his finishing touch soon, maybe as early as Thursday? Bring it on…
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.