Manchester United 3-1 QPR: The Red Devils follow the ever familar script
Manchester United came out following the same script as always against QPR in Old Trafford. The script goes like this. They play rubbish for an hour, usually going down a goal or two in the process. And then they would wake up in the last half an hour and score a flurry of goals.
With Mark Hughes sacked as QPR manager just a day before, it was surprising how well organized QPR were in the opening hour. Manchester United had to trail 1-0 till the first 60 minutes before they woke up and scored quick goals to put away a 3-1 win.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1):
Lindegaard – Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Rafael – Fletcher, Scholes – Welbeck, Rooney, Young – Van Persie
Cesar – Mbia, Hill, Nelsen, Traore – Derry, Faurlin, Mackie, Taarabt, Dyer – Cisse
Look who is back. Darren Fletcher scores with a thumping header.
Lack of Mobility
The away side sat deep with ten men behind the ball and at times, they even sat behind United’s deepest-lying midfielders. The home side dominated possession heavily but they lacked enough incisiveness.
United were too narrow in their attack and as the game wore on, they became alarmingly vulnerable to QPR’s transitions when possession was lost. This vulnerability was exacerbated by the lack of mobility of Scholes and Fletcher and their inability to guard so much space. It was not exactly their fault as the general level of mobility was suspect from the United side.
In the 52nd minute, during a corner, Jamie Mackie finished from close range to put QPR ahead. This prompted changes definitely.
Injection of Pace
In the 59th minute, SAF decided to bring on Chicharito and Anderson for the ineffective Young and yellow-carded Scholes. The substitutes had an immediate impact by upping the tempo of the game in United’s favour.
Johnny Evans scored the equaliser via a corner kick where Welbeck knocked down the corner and because QPR had a man on the post playing Evans onside, the defender was able to finish while sitting just in front of Cesar’s goal. This is a major disadvantage of zonal-marking which allowed Evans to be onside for his goal.
With the game going much more quickly than before, United began to penetrate the QPR defence increasingly making way for Fletcher’s sweet home coming goal through his header on a Rooney corner.
Three minutes after that, Anderson powerfully carried the ball forward from midfield before slipping a perfect through-ball for Chicharito. As expected, Chicha clinically right-footed his attempt into the bottom right corner. This essentially put the game out of reach for the visitors.
Fletcher’s return was quite good especially considering his second half performance.
Fletcher’s pass stats
It was great to see Fletcher back in Manchester United’s starting XI in the Premier League, but he did look slightly off the pace in the first half. But, as soon as United went a goal down he seemed to up his game to cap off a very nice performance.
Young’s Worrying Form
Young’s positioning was suspect throughout the time he was on pitch.
Young only tried to cross 4 times where he was successful only once.
Ashley Young is undoubtedly a talented player but he has underperformed for United throughout this season. Perhaps the competition has gotten to him but he surely needs to step up his game.
Low On Crosses
United completed only 7 out of a total of 32 crosses against QPR, which was pretty bad considering QPR’s horrible record in dealing with them.
QPR has been the worst team when defending against crosses and set-pieces as was obvious with 2 of United’s goals coming from crosses. If that was the case, then United definitely were not able to capitalize on QPR’s weakness more.
The Match Summed Up
It was overall a dull encounter against the bottom team which could have yielded many more goals had it not been for United’s lazy opening hour jinx, which continues to be their major problem.
For now, the Red Devils top the table but defending champions Manchester City have a game in hand. The ‘noisy neighbors’ visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday to take on Chelsea and their newly appointed ‘interim’-manager Rafa Benitez.