Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Heartless: Tottenham Hotspur 2 - Manchester United 1

photo by Toronja Azulvia PhotoRee

As they have on so many other occasions this season, Manchester United laid an egg at home on New Year's Day, losing to Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 to bring a dour end to the festive season of Premier League football. Although the Reds began the contest on the front foot, they quickly devolved into a disjointed, heartless group for the next hour, coming to life only after going down by a two goal margin. Although Danny Welbeck quickly responded to halve the deficit, it was all too little, too late for a team that played as if they are growing steadily accustomed to their mid-table status.

Once again, it was the center of the park that showed little drive or imagination, as the attack was customarily shunted out to the wings for a cross which never arrived. The defensive effort turned in by the squad should not escape criticism, either, as another day of shambolic defending contributed to the day's woeful outcome. The fact that the match ended with no recognized central midfielder on the pitch showed the extraordinary contortions David Moyes considered necessary to devise a route back into the contest, although the lateness of the manager's substitutions can also be questioned.

Herewith, the individual player ratings in a game that saw the Reds' chances for a top four finish take a major blow:

De Gea: Big early save on Aaron Lennon, but little he could have done on Spurs' two goals. 5.0

Smalling: Barnstorming run to begin the contest and combined well with Valencia, but beaten much too easily in the air for Spurs' goal.  Given an early hook. 3.5

Evans: Displayed decent pace up and down the pitch. 4.5

Vidic (c): Unremarkable performance, but did his best to put the ball in the net late on. 4.5

Evra: Beaten badly by Lennon on too many occasions. 4.0

Valencia: Routinely failed to get a cross past his man. Completely switched off for Spurs' second goal. 4.0

Carrick: A calming presence in midfield. 5.0

Cleverley: Worked diligently in the center but added little invention. Appears completely redundant with Carrick back in the side. 4.0

Januzaj: Injected energy into the attack, but not accurate enough in the first half with his passing. Performed significantly better when moved to the right.

Rooney: Dropped as deep as any midfielder, perhaps too deep at times. Much better performance when he quarterbacked the second half.  5.5

Welbeck: Attempted to use his pace to get behind the defense but failed to make a difference before the interval. Exquisite second half finish for his fifth goal in the last five games.  6.0


Kagawa (Smalling), 61: Another disappointing performance. We're struggling to understand what all the fuss is about. 4.5

Hernandez (Carrick), 61: Late backheel flick denied by Lloris, but generally lacked touch during his half hour on the pitch. 5.0

Young (Cleverley), 84: N/A

This is farlieonfootie for January 1.

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