Manchester United 2 West Bromwich Albion 0. My thoughts on the match that changed the title race.

I orginally posted this in the post match reaction thread. But because the thread is bumped so low on the site, I decided to make a fanpost about it.

This is probably the most complete game I’ve seen United play all year. I mean the team as a whole did a great job. The goalkeeping, defenders, midfielders and forwards played great and did their jobs.

The only gripe I had was our finishing, we could of had done better. It could at the very least have been 4-0. But we went into OT and played a West Brom side that has had a good run of form. They won their last three before playing us, been starting to playing well at the Hawthorns, which has been their kryptonite believe it or not and beat Chelsea. We had to play a 90-minute match against a team who truly believed they could of taken three points (at least that's what Chris Brunt felt) and we did it with bells on.

Despite not being tested too much, David de Gea had a great match. For the first time in a while he was not peppered with shots (a testament of how strong our defensive corps was that day), but made two key saves. The first being in the 17th minute in which he made a diving fingertip save on a free kick and the other being in the 81st minute he made a class save denying Shane Long a goal. Other than that he wasn't really tested. But he was on his toes for the times he was tested. Man his game has just gotten better as each match goes by. I mean his reflexes, agility to save the ball, his distribution have gotten better in the last few matches.

Man was Anders Lindegaard going down the best thing that happened to him, because I thought it was then that he realized that he needed to go out there and be that goalkeeper that he was when he was playing for Athletico and he has. Plus I was happy he kept the clean sheet because he deserved it (he deserved it in the Spurs but our D got complacent in the end).

I thought our defense played outstanding on Sunday. One of the drawbacks supporters bring up with our recent string of wins (the Norwich City game I like to bring up personally) is how average our defense has been, not bring stingy enough and letting the opposing teams get a good run of form in or outside the box and letting the opposing team get good shots in. Well not on Sunday. On Sunday our defenders did a fine job defending against Albion, standing toe to toe with them and not letting them out of their sight. As a result sans the first couple of minutes of the first half, West Bromwich didn’t have too many changes. When they had the ball, the play would be broken up by United either in the middle of the pitch or outside the box, also you will see that in the stats as shots wise West Brom only had seven shots (with three on target). This is what I want to see for the rest of the season!!

I thought Rio and Patrice (our whipping boy as of late) had a fine match. Both of them never took an eye off of the West Brom players they were defending, never giving them a inch of space to work with. To be specific, I thought Rio did a good job in the 30th and 32nd minute defending Marc Andre Fortune, never giving him a clear shot of the goal. Patrice did a good job in the 32nd minute stealing the ball by muscling it, also he did a good job in the 15th minute defending Josef Mulumbu, he kept on him and never gave him a chance the ball. This is what I want to see from Evra, can he do it consistently I don’t know.

Phil Jones didn’t have a bad day either, but it was his difficulty possessing the ball in the 5th minute that led to that good sliding shot Keith Andrews had, lucky for Phil he missed the net, because if he didn’t he would of scored because the net was empty. He needs to do better on that.

I thought our midfielders did an excellent job controlling and distributing the ball. For example Paul Scholes help made that first goal possible. He made a love deep pass to Chicharito, who then passed it to Wazza for the goal. For that Scholesy should be commended.

Good to see Tom Cleverley back in action. He didn’t do anything that stood out, but he distributed the ball well in the short time he had on the pitch.

Nice to see Paul Pogba seeing the light and finally realizing United is the club of the future for his career. He distributed the ball well, but two things stood out that he did: He used his strength in the 78th minute to get the ball off of Peter Odomwingie, who was on the edge of the right side of the box and if kept going had a decent shot at the net and in the 84th minute had a chance at goal, but didn’t have and zip on the shot.

Our forwards were like bees buzzing around the pitch that match, sure they only scored one goal on their own, but Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck and Chicha were running around the box trying to make things happen and getting decent shots. For that, they should be commended.

I’ll explain more, between the four players I just mentioned; they had 13 chances at the net, Young in the 10th, 27th, 67th and 82nd minute. Welbeck in the 26th, 59th and he made a good pass to Young in the 10th minute that led to his shot, Chicha in the 31st, 35th, 53rd, 75th and 83rd minute and he made a love pass to Wazza that led to his goal and Rooney in the 33rd minute.

I’m not saying all these chances they had were rock solid chances, in fact they only had two chances that were rock solid: The shot by Hernandez in the 53rd minute that were off the post and the chance by Welbeck in the 59th minute that could of went in but the finish wasn’t strong enough. All I’m saying is that our forwards were far from ghosts that day, but this must improve, United needs to improve on our finishing, especially when they face City at the Etihad in April, a team that dangerous in scoring. But I’m preaching to the choir on that one.

I’m very proud of what I saw from my team on Sunday. This was a team that passed with flying colors their difficult run of fixtures and although from now up to the Everton contest are playing sides that are either bottom feeders of below the top 10 (Wolverhampton Wanderers, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa) United from the West Brom contest on have to play perfect football in order to try and win the title, and they passed the first test with ease.

But through this line of fixtures, United CANNOT get complacent, they must play these sides like the sides are CL bound and not play to the level of their competition, the last time they did that they were embarrassed by Rovers at OT. United must not put their foot off the gas pedal from here to the end of the season if they want to win title 20. Although they look like dunkers, we could very well go to say…the DW and very well draw or even lose to Wigan for example. I know that looks impossible, but I never thought we would lose to Rovers at OT. So remember that.

I mean our next opponent is Wolves and although we disposed of them with ease at OT by a score of 3-1, things have gotten bleak for them. They dropped so many points that there in the drop zone and they sacked their manager Mick McCarthy and the man they replaced him with Terry Connor could be sacked if their luck doesn’t turn around, so this will be a very desperate side we will be facing at Molineaux, so we must be ready.

Got to wonder, with United top of the table, that the squad will just mail in their performance of the Europa League against Athletic Club in order to prepare themselves mentally and physically for their league match against Wolves? I think so but time will tell. If they do, I don’t think the United faithful will blame them. Winning the league is the top priority and if United can deny their noise neighbors their first league title in 40 plus years, then that tops what’s going on the Europa League, especially since were now top of the table.

By the way it feels DAMN GOOD to be back on top again. Credit to Swansea City for playing a fantastic game against City at the Liberty for what may very well be a turning point in the title race. You got to wonder if the pressure if finally getting to City and that they’ll have a difficult time getting through the hard run of fixtures they now have compared to us, who passed the difficult run with ease and dropping two points. Plus if we play our cards right, United could very well go up four points if we beat Wolves this week as City doesn’t play until next week. Got to wonder if that could effect City psychologically? Time will tell.

Now as a result, the bookmakers and pundits are now back on our side, something none of them were prior to Sunday. In fact Sky Sports asked five of their football pundits to predict who will win the title and one pundit picked us (and no the pundit was not Gary Neville), now there all singing a different tune, including Jamie Redknapp.

Buckle up Citeh, it’s squeaky bum time and you better be ready!!!


This FanPost represents the view of the member who posts it and does not necessarily reflect the views of <em>The Busby Babe</em> or <em>SB Nation. </em>

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