Upton park has over the seasons proved to be a tough place for Manchester United to visit. At full volume, the ground rivals the biggest grounds in the world for atmosphere. The Boleyn faithful were treated to a heartening display from their boys in claret and blue. Here are 5 talking points for the match between Manchester United and West Ham-
1. Striking contrasts
Rewind back to a month and Rooney seemed unbeatable. His runs were perfect, he was scoring goals and his midfield work was flawless. Van Persie, on the other hand, looked off-colour and many thought that his season had petered out. At Upton Park though, van Persie looked back to his former self. The magical first touch was back, and so was the intelligent movement and link-up play. Rooney, on the other hand, was indirectly at fault for the first goal United conceded, and directly responsible for Diame’s second. His passing was erratic, at best. He lost the ball several times, and the intelligent runs were absent. Maybe Rooney too realizes that his time as a Red Devil is up. His performances certainly showed that.
2. Fit and Firing
Andy Carroll had been labelled as a hyper-inflated failure, but has responded very well. His performance against United showed why he is one of the best out-and-out target men left in the game. He won balls, made runs and got stuck into the United defense. He set up the first goal for Vaz Te and had a key role to play in their second. The only man who could handle him was Vidic, and that too not very convincingly. When West Ham were defending the draw, it was heartening to see him helping out at centre-back. It was his block that prevented Hernandez from scoring the winner.
3. Midfield woes
After watching United get over-run by the team from the East End, I have to say that former Hammers’ midfielder Carrick is the only top quality central midfielder United have. Jones, who partnered him in midfield, was a misfiring missile all through the game. His ball distribution was poor, and despite his physicality he still got bossed around by Vaz Te and Diame. Kagawa had a moment of brilliance that earned United their equalizer, but other than that could not impose himself.
Though this match ended in a draw, the best thing for Manchester United was Valencia’s return to some kind of form. His trademark runs were back and crosses were sent in all night. Though not all of them were accurate, at least they displayed his increasing confidence. Jarvis was, for me, the man of the match. He consistently got past his man and put in good quality balls. His pace and trickery were on display all through the game, and he was the reason that West Ham got their lead.
5. De Gea growing up
There has been consistent criticism of David De Gea, suggesting that he has not been able to deal with the physical nature of the English game. He should have put to rest any such criticism after his display at Upton Park. He showed bravery and commitment with his assured display. He made a brilliant save even though he was being fouled. The moment of his night though was when he bossed Carroll and pushed him to the ground, bringing to mind the dominance showed by Van der Sar and Schmeichel.Published 18 Apr 2013, 22:51 IST