|Photo by WoodleyWonderWorks on Flickr
Buzzing: Old Trafford was buzzing like a bee yesterday. As the club enters a December holiday period glutted with games, there was the very real sense -- palpable even on television from across the Atlantic Ocean -- that we are entering a most important time of the year. The season will be made or broken over the next few weeks, and given City's deserved victory over Newcastle in the early Saturday kickoff, United needed to out the pedal to the metal. So would they?
Rampaging: The Reds overwhelmed Sunderland in the game's early going, with Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley and Antonio Valencia gutting the Mackem defense like a fish. After weeks of frustrating the fans, Young has been a revelation the last two games: he's been pacy and incisive. And Cleverley is beginning to make the central midfield position his own -- playing with boundless energy and determination. He's adding goals to his game, too, which is a massive bonus.
Assisting: Not only is he scoring, he's adding assists to his game. Who? Robin Van Persie, of course. Some strikers do nothing but shoot -- Daniel Sturridge, we're talking 'bout you! -- while others appear selfish almost to a fault. Van Persie strikes the perfect balance -- up near the very top of the League scorers' table, but also setting the table repeatedly for others --Wayne Rooney first and foremost. RVP is sharp as a razor right now, and if he can keep injury free this season you've got to believe the Reds are the odds-on-favorites to be lifting the BPL trophy come May.
Misfiring: Although he scored once yesterday, Wazza could have (should have?) easily had a hat trick. His movement and anticipation were finely tuned; only his finishing was slightly off. Perhaps his stated mission of destroying Sunderland -- Payback's a bitch, boys, and we all remember last season's finale -- interfered with his ability to focus, or perhaps it was a case of just trying too hard. It ultimately doesn't matter, though: if he plays like he did yesterday the goals will continue to find him -- and the torrid streak will continue.
Disappointing: Just when you could reasonably have expected United to dominate the game and see it finish 5-0 or more, the Reds took their foot off Sunderland's throat. Not only did they lose their way, more importnatly they lost their shutout. The team needs a clean sheet for the defense to feel like they are contributing to the effort, and Frazier Campbell's late tally had to feel like an uninvited guest at the Old Trafford party.
This is farlieonfootie for December 16.