Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just Enough: Manchester United 1 - Norwich City 0 -- Game Recap and Player Ratings

photo by ximenatapiavia PhotoRee

Playing bland, uninspired football, Manchester United did just enough to outlast a determined Norwich City side at Carrow Road on Saturday.  The second half introduction of Danny Welbeck changed the fortunes of the Red Devils, enlivening a sluggish attack and creating the lone goal the visitors needed to notch their fifth consecutive win.  Despite having the ball for large portions of the contest, the Red Devils conceded eight corners to the one they gained, as the play from Chris Hughton's team belied their cellar dwelling position, with the home side forcing much of the action and piling repeated pressure on David De Gea's goal.  

The importance of the result showed in the contest's nervy ending, with United seeking to dribble the game out in the Norwich corner, but forced into some last gasp defending to preserve their shutout.  Herewith, the individual player ratings on a key victory for the visitors:

De Gea: Under a ton of first half pressure but up to the task. 7.0

Smalling: Acquitted himself well at right back.  Displayed good quickness for a big man. 6.5

Vidic (c): An absolute warrior in the air. 7.0

Evans: Key first half block on a Wes Hoolahan shot. 6.5

Evra: Beaten like a drum repeatedly but bailed out by De Gea in the first half. More disciplined effort after the interval. 5.0

Young: Ineffective on the left. The move to the right side brought some life to his game, but the winger went listless again after moving back to left to accommodate Januzaj. 4.5

Cleverley: Seems mentally and physically incapable of doing more than laying the ball off. Soft challenges in midfield led to opportunities for the home side. 4.0

Carrick: Directed traffic in the middle and brought back the one touch pass to the United attack. 5.5

Giggs: A virtual spectator. 4.0

Kagawa: Started left but drifted toward the center. The positional changes neatly reflected the way he drifted in and out of the game. 4.5

Hernandez: Starved of service until he took his side's first shot on goal in the 45th minute. Looked less than sharp. 4.5


Welbeck (Giggs), 46: His directness and pace breathed some much needed life into the United attack.  Conjured up a goal out of the clear blue, making a difficult shot look easy. 7.5

Januzaj (Kagawa), 70: His cameo made surprisingly little impact. 5.5

Fletcher (Hernandez), 86; N/A

This is farlieonfootie for December 28.

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