United Back On Track
Manchester United put an end to their three game losing streak by sealing a 2-0 win over Swansea City thanks to two second half goals from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck.
There was a lot of pressure on United to get all three points due to a poor first half of the season and tensions mounted furthermore after going back through the tunnel at half time goalless. United were again without Robin Van Persie (thigh injury) and Wayne Rooney (groin injury).
It was the exceptional Adnan Januzaj, who Welbeck branded a ‘revelation’ after the game, that ignited the Red Devils second half surge. The boy from Belgium was at the heart of all things good for United and has become the teams creative catalyst in Rooney’s absence.
The games first real chance came from the Man Of The Match himself 10 minutes into the first half, when he scorched a slick free kick over the wall hitting the cross bar.
In the first half, Swansea’s midfielders Jonjo Shelvey and Leon Britton very much dominated possession but weren’t able to utilize the ball and penetrate United’s defence.
The game picked up 10 minutes before half time with a blasted effort from Darren Fletcher, who’s return from his debilitating chronic bowel condition has helped stablise the Reds midfield. The spark came from Patrice Evra’s cross falling to the feet of Valencia who laid it off to Fletcher who drove it over the bar.
Just a minute afterwards, Welbeck looked sure to put United ahead after a nice combination between Valencia and Januzaj saw Rafael put the ball in the middle of the box. Welbeck snatched at the ball and put his shot wide of the far post.
Swansea were quick to respond to United’s sudden breathe of life, but the promising attack conducted by Wayne Routledge was only concluded with a poor attempt from the former Liverpool midfielder Shelvey.
Going in at half time at 0-0 you couldn’t help but feel that Swansea could cause yet another upset at Old Trafford but relief came quickly in the 46th minute when Valencia fired home United’s first goal. Januzaj whipped the ball into the box from the left flank, after Shinji Kagawa’s head across goal it was followed up and fired in the net from close range by Valencia.
David Moyes made the decision of switching Kagawa and Januzaj so that the Japanese international was in his preferred central number 10 position just behind Welbeck. After making this change, United immediately came to life putting balls in the box, linking-up good attacking play between midfield and the flanks and Januzaj was able to bring Evra into the game down the left wing.
United became more exciting to watch as they grew in confidence. You could hear the sheer relief around Old Trafford as the atmosphere picked up after the first goal but the stadium really came to life in the 59th minute when local Mancunian boy Welbeck maturely guided Evra’s deflected shot into goal. A fine finish which puts him at nine goals for the season, a big improvement from last seasons disappointing one goal tally.
United really took a hold of the game in the second half with the confidence and momentum of play giving the home crowd something to shout about. Alejandro Pozuelo later tried to diffuse the situation with a curling shot from range, but the ball kept moving away from goal and ended up in the stands.
Both Smalling and Kagawa failed to make it 3-0 after each wasted big chances in front of goal, however, much to the relief of Moyes, the headlines tomorrow will not be ruing these missed opportunities, rather the hope and possibility that Manchester United can still give us the magical football we have come to know so well. That remains to be seen, but one thing we do know is that Januzaj is the real deal. He is young, fearless, creative, hungry and has time to develop into a world star.