United welcomed the visitors Blackburn after good wins against Wigan to go level at the top of the premier league, and a hard fought victory at Ibrox over Rangers. Despite being unbeaten all season in all competitions, many critics have suggested that United have yet to play well this season, and few could argue given our poor performances on the road and carelessly dropped points. However, those who know and love United and have followed the club over the years were expecting the goals to flow during this crucial part of the season, where United often lay down the gauntlet to their title rivals. And they were soon to be proved right.
It took United less than 3 minutes to trouble the scorers, as Berbatov bagged a confidence boosting goal, his first since the 3-2 victory over Liverpool in September. United kicked on from their great start, perhaps playing the best football they have all season with Rooney, Berbatov and Nani causing havoc in the final third, and Anderson and Carrick running the game in midfield. Ji Sung Park grabbed United’s second on 23 minutes after an exquisite through ball from Rooney, Park had the simple task of lobbing over Robinson. Blackburn contributed to their own implosion, as Pascal Chimbonda handed Berbatov’s 2nd on a plate after a suicidal back pass, which the Bulgarian gratefully accepted and smashed home.
As the United faithful caught their breath at half time, many thought that the action couldn’t get much better than what they had just witnessed. They were soon to be surprised. The frenzy continued with perhaps the best of United’s goals arriving 2 minutes after the restart, as Berbatov began a counter attack on the edge of his own box with a delightful one two, before spraying an inch perfect 30 yard pass out to Nani who returned to the onrushing Berbatov to smash home his hatrick. Nani got on the scoresheet a minute later, after a sublime through ball from the impressive Anderson, Nani shifted it back onto his left foot and curled it past a helpless Robinson. Berbatov added a fourth on 62 mintues, after converting a goal mouth scramble, and a fifth after unselfishly trying to square for Rooney, reaping the rewards by tapping in the rebound. Samba got Blackburn an underserved consolation goal, spoiling United’s clean sheet but the day belonged to the reds, who raced to the top and significantly erased Chelsea’s superior goal difference over us. Perhaps the only slight on what would have been a perfect day was the absence of Rooney’s name on the score sheet, however his performance was enough to have United fans purring again.
As we approach the difficult month of december, this was the perfect time for United to send out a powerful and comprehensive message. With Chelsea and City dropping points again, United appear to have wrestled back the initiative in the title race with perhaps the most important period of the season coming up. It was a pleasure to see United play back to their full potential again, creating chances and battering mediocre opposition in true United fashion. Fergie will have real selection issues next weekend against Blackpool, with both Carrick and Anderson really staking a claim for a run together in the team and with the return of Rooney and Berbatov to full form, will Hernandez get another chance to add to his goal tally? After a brilliant cup draw against the Scousers at home, the festive period looks to be one United fans can relish and really get stuck into as we push on again for major honours. Next up is Blackpool away, and what will hopefully be one of the best away day’s of the season!