Saturday, March 29, 2014

Plane and Simples: Manchester United 4 - Aston Villa 1

photo by [niv]via PhotoRee


In a season which has veered from one disaster to another, Manchester United held off the impending doom and gloom surrounding the club for at least another few days, winning 4-1 at Old Trafford over a hapless Aston Villa side that did more damage to itself than was inflicted by the home side.  Despite the misleading final margin of victory, the performance was far from easy on the eyes, and typical of most under manager David Moyes this season: devoid of style and attacking flair for much of the match, and papering over the cracks of a sloppy defensive effort.  Still, a win is a win, and United at least head into the mid-week Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich without the customary hand-wringing and cringeworthy explanations of another puzzling performance.

Standouts on Saturday afternoon included Juan Mata, whose scruffy goal represented the first real return on the board's largest-ever investment, and Shinji Kagawa, who played the number 10 role as if it was tailor-made for him.  Wayne Rooney also offered a passionate performance for the Reds, scoring one goal from the run of play and another from the spot while leading the line.

Herewith, a look at our individual player ratings on a  game that should be seen as no more than it was: a home win over a poor team that missed some very easy chances.

De Gea: Screened by the wall on Westwood's free kick, and little enough to do after that. 7.0

Rafael: Gaining quite the collection of yellow cards this season; seemingly a red card waiting to happen every game.  Good thing Bayern is coming into town....  6.0

Jones: Filled in at right back after the break, but was fortunate that Benteke couldn't find his range when played onside.  6.0


Vidic: Fortunate not to give up a penalty.  6.0

B├╝ttner: Yet another dire performance.  4.0

Fletcher: Efficient, but not the same player he used to be. 6.0


Fellaini: Being uncomfortable with the ball at your feet is not a good quality for a central midfielder.  5.5

Young: Just not good enough. 5.0

Kagawa: Superb cross to Rooney for the equalizer, but difficult to tell whether he meant to offer the brilliant pass that led to a penalty. 8.0

Mata: Taken down in the box and scored his first goal of the season in red. 7.5

Rooney: On target with the early header and a superbly taken penalty before the break. Played his socks off today. 8.0

Substitutions:

Carrick (Rafael), 46: Fantastic clearance with the ball at the feet of Benteke. 6.5

Januzaj (Kagawa), 68: Tried to do too much by himself, but redeemed his effort with a beautiful run and an inch-perfect cross for the fourth goal. 7.0

Hernandez (Rooney), 75: More movement in last 15 minutes than most other players in the first 75.  After he scored it was easy to see the toll this season has taken. 7.0

This is farlieonfootie for March 29.

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