MANCHESTER United stuttered to a narrow 1-0 win over West Ham United in a dreary Premier League clash on Wednesday. In a game which went largely without incident, Robin Van Persie’s goal after 33 seconds ensured the points for the hosts.
Manchester United made 5 changes to the side that comfortably beat Queens Park Rangers. Anders Lindegaard kept his place in goal. Chris Smalling replaced Rio Ferdinand in the lineup in central defence, Michael Carrick returned in place of Darren Fletcher, Anderson replaced the suspended Paul Scholes, whilst Tom Cleverley came in for the recently woeful Ashley Young. Chicharito took Danny Welbeck’s place.
In the absence of natural wingers in the starting lineup due to injury, poor form, or accommodating 3 strikers, United returned to the diamond formation. Michael Carrick was at the base, Tom Cleverley played on the right of the diamond, Anderson on the left of the diamond, with Wayne Rooney at the tip. Chicharito was paired up front with Robin Van Persie.
On the bench Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand provided defensive cover along with Alexander Büttner. Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck and Darren Fletcher were available as options as well.
Anders Lindegaard: Surprisingly, had a very quiet evening. He would have expected to be tested more at setpieces, but West Ham’s famed threat in that department never materialised . Made one excellent point blank save from Carlton Cole, as the hosts endured a nervy finish. 6
Rafael: Excellent display once again from the livewire Brazilian. Maturing with every game he plays, he is surely on current form, the best right fullback in the League. Solid defensively, coped with Jarvis easily, and was great in offering width going forward. Man of the Match. 8
Jonny Evans: Another accomplished display. Defended solidly, coped with the aerial threat of Andy Carroll extremely well. Really thriving with the opportunities that injuries and Sir Alex have provided him over the last season and a half. Looks a top quality Premier League centreback now. 7
Chris Smalling: Rapidly improving with each game he plays since returning from a long layoff. Immense at times against Carroll, and looks fitter and stronger than ever. Made a couple of excellent blocks, and overall was very solid. 7
Patrice Evra: Did not venture forward as much as he would have liked due to the threat of Jarvis and Taylor, but defended solidly. Had one scary moment with a underhit backpass, but luckily the excellent Evans was alert and cleared the danger. 6
Michael Carrick: was his usual calm, composed self. Marshalled the area in front of the back 4 very well. His positional intuitiveness and passing range is vastly underrated, as evidenced by his excellent pass that set up the Van Persie goal. 7
Anderson: Continued his impressive run of form. His display in the Capital One Cup at Stamford Bridge seems to have given him renewed confidence. Dynamic, direct, skilful and passed beautifully. Seems more willing to shoot from long range now, which is indicative of his confidence. Just pipped to the Man of the Match by Rafael. 8
Tom Cleverley: Energetic, composed and steely display. Looks a lot more durable now than he did last season. Visibly tired in the second half and was replaced by Young. There have been reports that he is set to sign a new 5 year deal at the club, which would double his wages to £60,000 per week, as Ferguson looks to make sure the young midfielder stars at Old Trafford for years to come. 7
Wayne Rooney: Playing at the tip of the diamond, he sprayed passes around Old Trafford and appeared to enjoy his box-to-box, all-action role. Flitted in and out of the game at times, but when he did combine with Cleverley, Anderson and Van Persie, the football was of the highest quality. Having Rooney up front with Van Persie, and Shinji Kagawa playing at the tip of the diamond, would probably be the best combination to make this shape work in the long-term. 7
Chicharito: In a purple patch of form, despite not getting on the scoresheet here. Was a constant threat and his movement caused the Hammers no end of trouble. His first touch has improved, and confidence is such that he is even attempting shots from outside the box. 7
Robin Van Persie: I said in my last ratings that he would soon be on the scoresheet again, and it took him 33 seconds to score via a deflection. Overall he threatened only sporadically, but yet another match winning goal. 6
Ashley Young for Tom Cleverley (66): He was once again ineffective, this time appearing from the bench against tiring legs. Lost possession a couple of times and his crosses were easily cut out. His form is a massive worry, especially with Nani out of favour and Valencia struggling with a hip injury. Replaced Cleverley, as Wayne Rooney went to the right and he went to the left in a 4-4-2. 5
Danny Welbeck for Wayne Rooney (74): Had little impact on the game. Was largely on the periphery as West Ham had a good spell in the last 15 minutes to ensure a nervy finale. Swapped with Rooney on the right and helped with defensive duties in the closing stages, but simply not a wide player. 5
Phil Jones for Anderson (83): straight swap into the midfield as Anderson was replaced to a rousing ovation. Great to see the lad get some more minutes under his belt, but didn’t have enough time to get a rating. N/A