10 November 2012

United's spirit shows no sign of wavering

Manchester United fought back from two goals down at Villa Park to stun Paul Lambert's men thanks to two goals from substitute Javier Hernandez. 

In the week that marks his 26th year in charge at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson made a typically spot-on decision when he sent on the young Mexican at half-time. Chicharito was heavily involved with all three goals; scoring the first, hitting a shot that was deflected in by Ron Vlaar for the equaliser, before heading in the winner three minutes from time.  

After being pipped by city rivals Manchester City to the title on goal difference last season Ferguson would have made it clear that nothing but a league triumph will do this time round. He sent out a massive signal of intent when he signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal for £24 million in the summer and the Dutchman has rewarded him with 11 goals so far this year, as well as assisting the winner at Villa Park. 

Today was the eighth time that the Red Devils have come from behind to win this season and they started sluggishly today. Despite having plenty of possession they failed to create anything of note in the first half and Villa caught them out on the stroke of half-time with a beautifully worked opening goal. Andreas Weimann weighted his path down the line to perfection to Christian Benteke who cut the ball back for his strike-partner to fire high past David de Gea. 

The home side were at it again early in the second half when Stephen Ireland did well to find winger Gabriel Agbonlahor whose low cross was tapped in by Weimann.

Ferguson will be worried by the manner in which his defence was cut open for both goals as the speed of Villa's front three proved too much for Ferdinand and Smalling at the back. De Gea did not have much to do over the 90 minutes, but should have done better with Weimann's opening goal. 

It was old-timer Paul Scholes, recalled to the starting line-up after a five-game absence, who provided the spark that got United back into the match. His excellent long pass over the top to Hernandez was a reminder of the quality that he has always possessed, while the striker's finish showed that he has a great future.

After that the equaliser was coming and it came from a deep cross by Antonio Valencia that found Hernandez, whose volley was deflected into his own net by Vlaar. 

After Weimann had almost completed a hat-trick with a header, it was Chicharito who had the last laugh when he headed past Brad Guzan from Van Persie's free-kick to give United the points. 

Despite a great win, the red half of Manchester will not be overly pleased with the way their side played. The back line looked vulnerable through-out, while Wayne Rooney struggled to make an impact before being substituted. 

But there is a reason why United are one of the favourites to win the title this season, and they showed that today with a come-back from virtually nothing. It was the seventh time that they have come back from two or more goals to win since the inception of the Premier league in 1992/93, more than any other team.

However, United have always been able to get themselves out of trouble, and although they have weaknesses, their ability to shrug them off and still take the three points is what sets them apart. It will take a great team to beat them to the English games' top prize this campaign. 

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