Manchester United fans & Sir Alex Ferguson were a happy outfit as they saw United fight back from behind once again as they done time & again this season past Stoke City in what proved to be a tough and Physical encounter. By doing so, they have closed the gap to the league leaders Chelsea, who kept their unbeaten league record going with a 4-2 coming from behind victory against Spurs.Rooney scored twice to secure three points for United
The Stoke boss, Tony Pulis had being modest by being wary of facing Manchester United stating that they can only “do their best” & as it turned out once again they did try their best. But as he puts out every time when they face Manchester United “We probably played as well as we have played. We have had good periods in games up there, but they have always managed to get goals at the right time”. United were indeed able to score at the right time once again.
The United boss surprised everyone by putting De Gea between the goal & not even including Kagawa, Cleverley, Young and Buttner on the bench. They were still on the same formation of 4-2-3-1. Stoke City were playing their usual 4-5-1 formation with Michael Owen returning to the place of his former team starting from the bench.
Man United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Carrick, Valencia; Rooney, Scholes, Welbeck; RVP. Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Nani, Powell, Wootton
Stoke City: Begovic; Cameroon, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson, N’Zonzi, Adam, Whitehead, Knightly, Walters, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Upson, Wilkinson, Palacios, Etherington, Jones, Owen.
Manchester United started out well with a very early chance within the first 30 seconds that was put wide by the master Scholes which might have been one of his stunning long range goals on any other day. The first testing chance came when Scholes gave a pinpoint pass putting RVP through only for the referee to call it offside. United started off well and were having the ball possession until Scholes, who is known to be a bad tackler, gave away a free kick which saw the United hit man Wayne Rooney scoring an own goal while marking Shawcross on the 11th minute. De Gea should have gone for the ball or at least parried away, but he did the neither. Next minute Charlie Adam came up with a superb cross that almost found its way into the goal, but De Gea who is known for his shot stopping skills made a brilliant save.
Scholes was their best player until the first 20 minutes, with his passing & picking the players being pin point accurate. United were struggling to get their acts on the 3rd half of the field despite having all the possession. A wonderful run from Welbeck on the wings & a series of 1-2 passing between him & RVP saw a potential chance only for Welbeck to put it wide with a poor touch. Stoke were constantly troubling the United especially on the air, with Crouch & Adam putting some blinding performance in the first 25 minutes. De Gea once again saved United to bring a halt to a lovely move by Walters-Crouch-Adam which was cleared away by Evra on the 24th minute. Stoke city were doing what they do best, by crunching United for space by packing their final third.
But the constant pressing from Man United paid off on the 27th minute when a superb RVP cross was met by Rooney with a thumping header. Wayne Rooney continued his scintillating form by scoring at each end. A brilliant long range pass from RVP was controlled brilliantly by Rooney & set it up for Welbeck, but the shot went wide once again. United were getting into the rhythm by constantly swapping Welbeck-Rooney-RVP on the left wing. Paul Scholes reminded everyone that he still has a lot of speed when he decided to run at the Stoke defenders, played a 1-2 with RVP but was blocked by the bodies in front of the goal. United were looking so close in taking the lead when a wonderful curling shot on the 39th minute from Welbeck found the cross bar and went out for what would have been a brilliant goal. United’s persistence paid off finally at the stroke of halftime, when Valencia drilled home a low ground cross through the legs of Wilson & RVP met out his left foot to complete a brilliant finish to put United ahead by 2-1 going into the half time.
Manchester United started the second half in a brilliant fashion when Rooney’s cross was met superbly by the diving head of Welbeck to take their lead further to 3-1 on the 46th minute. United looked dangerous than ever when a corner from RVP was deflected to Rooney, which was then put back in the air only for Evans shot to be saved wonderfully by Begovic. The ruthless nature of United was visible in every move they made. United were looking confident than ever both defensively where they were clearing out balls with ease, while Evra and even Ferdinand were found running in the final half of the pitch attacking. But United were brought back to reality on the 59th minute when Knightly was allowed to run past the gaping hole that United defense left open while being busy attacking. Knightley’s shot just had enough legs to roll over the line bringing stoke right back into the match with 30 minutes to go.
Just when United were looking nervous on the ball, an RVP corner which was defended poorly by the Potters allowed Rooney to score his 3rd (including own goal) goal of the evening which was also his 200th goal of his football career. The two goal cushion was restored once again on the 65th minute. Scholes was replaced by Anderson on the 70th minute & Walters was replaced by Etherington. Old Trafford gave Michael Owen a standing ovation on his return as a Potters player replacing Knightly & Nani replacing Valencia on the 74th minute. The tempo of the game reduced after United’s fourth and United were trying to run down the clock. Welbeck was replaced by Hernandez which was their final substitution of the evening. United were running down the time by passing & looking to increase their goal difference at every opportunity going forward. Stoke city were resigned to the fact that they would not be able to rewrite history this time around.
Overall a very entertaining game where both teams had times when they were dominating, but United once again rose to the occasion and finished off the chances thanks to some poor defending from Stoke City. Some pointers of improvement for Man United where Welbeck needs to improve his shooting by being patient in the final third despite scoring once and De Gea needs to give that assurance at the back by coming for the ball which was the reason for the first goal. United’s defense should start concentrating on what they are paid to be doing rather than leaving gaping holes at the back which will be an area of concern for Sir Alex with the fixtures they have in the next two weeks. With two tough league & capital one cup fixtures against Chelsea away to come & hosting Arsenal at home the following weekend, this result must give Manchester United the thrust forward to raise their game one more step when they face the premier league giants. While Stoke city were playing the physical football they are best known for by taking a lead, but they allowed United coming back putting pressure on themselves. The potters need to be consistent in their play in their forthcoming matches by not relaxing after taking a lead. With relatively less tougher fixtures to look forward, Stoke City can only hope to start winning & bring home the three points that has been deprived so often this season.
Next Manchester United fixture is against Chelsea on 28th October (Sunday) at Stamford Bridge, while Stoke City hosts Sunderland at home on 27th October (Saturday).