|photo by thelastminute||via PhotoRee|
Perhaps the beating of the team with the single worst form in the League over the past 6 games while playing at home would normally not be a cause for celebration, but it was for David Moyes yesterday, along with million of other Manchester United fans around the globe. In a nutshell, this is what the current Red Devils' season has become: a narrow 2-0 victory at Old Trafford which prevents a four game losing streak is a huge positive. The fact that Chelsea at Stamford Bridge looms next on the Red Devils' schedule seems not to have registered with most observers as of yet, or at the very least United supporters are putting it out of their minds just to remember what it feels like to win and celebrate again.
Yesterday's victory was the proverbial tale of two halves, with United looking flat, disjointed and painfully slow before the break, and more like their old, attacking selves after the interval. The manager's switch of Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj's positioning had something to do with the revival, with the former moving to the middle and the latter drifting out to the left for the final 45 minutes of the contest. Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck provided the goals and the defense did their best to shut down a Swans' attack that was missing several key players.
So while the immediate crisis may be over, the question of whether or not United have turned the corner is as open as ever. Without further ado, our thoughts on the individual player performances in a victory that provided some much-needed relief:
De Gea: A most comfortable afternoon. 7.0
Rafael: More defensive focus than usual, but should have had an assist when a lung-busting run of 70 yards was spurned by Shinji Kagawa. 7.5
Smalling: Silky smooth in the center but could've easily added a third goal. 7.0
Vidic (c): Diving clearances highlighted his physical commitment. 7.5
Evra: More first half shots than anyone else, and an assist to boot. Gave his all throughout, especially in the second half. 7.5
Valencia: Didn't do much before the break but stuffed home a rebound for an early second half lead. 6.5
Carrick: Still has the eye for a pass and can block a shot when need be. One of his better recent efforts. 7.0
Fletcher: Industrious effort, and a good part of what's been missing in the middle. Mr. Cleverley, please take note. 7.0
Januzaj: Rattled the crossbar early and became much more influential after the break. 8.0
Kagawa: Wasn't in the game until his header led to the game's first goal. Grew in influence as he moved to the middle and should have had an assist for Smalling. Still can't figure our how he didn't score a third goal himself. 7.0
Welbeck: Should've put the ball away in front of halftime but did his business after the break. 7.0
Büttner (Evra), 80: Still a defensive liability. 5.5
Hernandez (Welbeck), 86: N/A
This is farlieonfootie for January 12.