United Squeak into FA Cup Quarterfinals
Questions and critics still linger over the Red Devils this week and their ability to show character in their matches. Manchester United’s most recent encounter in the FA Cup matchup against Preston North End none of those questions were answered. Although Louis Van Gaal’s side in fact emerged victorious 3-1, the manner how United won left many puzzled.
The Dutch manager has been enduring critics berating his tactic of deploying players in “off” positions. The match against Preston was not different which saw Van Gaal position Angel Di Maria in the center attacking midfield role, instead of his more productive position on the wings. Wayne Rooney on this occasion saw himself playing next to Falcao instead of what appears to be his position under Louis Van Gaal, center midfield.
The concept of playing players out of position could be a good thing when players are able to adapt to their new “set up.” In other cases it could fall apart in front of everyone’s eyes. Against Preston North End many should have noticed the character and manner the Red Devils were performing. Daley Blind was playing in the holding midfield role but many times during the match one could find Blind back behind the two center backs.
After the first half Manchester United enjoyed the majority of the possession of the half but were absolutely poor with the possession they had in the first half. In fact the pressure would build against United two minutes into the restart. Preston would take the lead in the 47th minute through a shot from Laird.
Manchester United would soon respond in the 65th minute when Ander Herrera equalized for the Red Devils. Seven minutes after the Reds equalized they would go on to take the lead through one Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian midfielder was able to get on the other end of a fantastic cross, whipped in by Antonio Valencia. Preston goalkeeper Stuckmann was able to save Fellaini’s first attempt but palmed the ball back to the lingering Belgian who powered the follow up into the net for United’s second.
The Red Devils would ensure their progression in the final minutes of the match after a very “dubious” penalty created and sunk by Rooney. In the 87th minute the United captain was “somehow” brought down by the Preston keeper, which the referee Kevin Friend pointed to the penalty spot. After looking over the replay, the argument of simulation by Rooney is more than validated. The United captain stepped up to the penalty and sent the penalty and the Red Devils into the FA Cup quarterfinals.
The Dutch manager will next be playing host to Arsenal in the Red Devils’ quarterfinal match up. Granted Louis Van Gaal has already got the best of Arsene Wenger once this season defeating the gunner at the Emirates 2-1. Wenger may be taking note of his counterpart’s possible weaknesses take advantage of come March seventh.