Manchester United now stands in fourth place in the Barclays Premier League table after a slow and rocky start. Goals are obviously important even beyond securing three points but they are what is giving United the fourth place spot because of goal difference. Manchester United will need to continue the present form and improve over the next 3 weeks.
Di Maria was outstanding against Everton and he will be a game-changer this season. Even though he has yet to endure the harsh winter conditions of the UK, his impact should be undaunted. According to Squawka, his pass accuracy is 81% and created 16 chances in 5 appearances. His goals thus far have been timely and efforts are never-ending. Constantly moving whether off or on the ball is setting him free from midfield and defensive marking and leaving space for shots. He has also shown very creative visions from time to time passing the ball from the back heal or chipping opponents.
Manchester United are short on strikers. It is cringing to think of James Wilson coming on as a substitute striker in place of Falcao. Fans might rather see a semi in-form Chicharito than James Wilson. With van Persie misfiring and losing balls his attacking prowess has dwindled significantly. He has rarely been marked since DiMaria’s arrival and rightly so with chance after chance wasted. If anyone of United’s three top strikers incur an injury, there is substantial risk of coming up short when heavy firepower is needed. Thank the midfield for picking up the goals so far this year.
De Gea was outstanding in goal but needs to lead the defense. No one commanded and organized the United defensive line better than Van Der Sar. David De Gea is getting better, but is nowhere near the level of commander and chief in his third of the pitch. Now that that the world and himself have been reminded of the tremendous shot stopping power he has, De Gea has to come to grips with the need for him to organise and command the back line. Against Everton, there could have never been a better set of timely saves to boost the morale of the team and confidence of Spain’s now #2 keeper. Clean sheets have been rare this year for the keeper but not without lack of help from a disorganised and inexperienced defence. The Everton win should give De Gea the necessary confidence moving forward to a tough run of games against top 4 opponents.
The young Manchester United talent can handle the pressure. Romelu Lukaku is still trying to shake off Paddy McNair. A strong yet calm performance by the young Northern Irish centre-half left Everton strikers with few options in front of goal. McNair still needs considerable amounts of experience but if off to an excellent first couple of appearances. Tyler Blackett continues to impress as well in his left/center half performances. It is the calm nature about their play that shows the reserve team experience is having an effect. Blackett looks comfortable against Premier League veterans but is still untested against the likes of Costa and Aguero.
What we are seeing today are the positives and negatives about not playing in Europe. The United team has the fewest number of schedule games in a season since 1997 giving the team more rest days than any other top four team. This gives more time to prepare per game and allows the team to solidify Van Gaal’s tactics. The downside for United is that quality players have fewer chances to get a run of games. The usual suspects in cup appearances no longer have that option with the Capitol One Cup exit and no additional European nights. Players like Januzaj, Fellaini, and Fletcher have hardly seen the pitch this season. If United maintain form and can secure Champions League football next season, perhaps rewards will come to those that wait. Fourth place is certainly a welcome position after a rocky start for United who have climbed the ladder with determination and hope.