MANCHESTER United beat Queens Park Rangers comfortably at a soaked Old Trafford to temporarily return to the summit of the English Premier League. Rangers took a shock lead through a 52nd minute Jamie Mackie tap in. Jonny Evans equalized with a 64th minute header after Danny Welbeck flicked on a Wayne Rooney corner, before Darren Fletcher gave United the lead in the 67th minute from another Rooney corner. Javier Hernandez, on as a substitute, made it 3-1 in the 72nd minute and from there they strolled to the 3 points.
Queens Park Rangers travelled to Old Trafford after a tumultuous week at the club, which saw Mark Hughes sacked and Harry Redknapp appointed manager. Redknapp would be in the stands watching his new charges, while Hughes’ first team coaches, Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki were in the dugout. It remains to be seen whether they remain at the club, or if Redknapp will turn to his usual backroom staff instead.
Manchester United came into this game on the back of last weeks surprise defeat at Norwich, and Sir Alex Ferguson made 4 changes from the side that underwhelmed at Carrow Road. Jonny Evans replaced Chris Smalling at centreback, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher replaced Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs in the centre of midfield, while Danny Welbeck replaced Antonio Valencia, who was not in matchday squad at all. On the bench Phil Jones returned to the Premier League matchday squad, Chris Smalling dropped out of the starting XI, Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Nick Powell and Javier Hernandez also were hoping for a run out.
On paper it looked like a straight 4-4-2 formation with Rooney and Van Persie up front, with Welbeck (right) and Young (left). Realistically, it was likely to be a 4-2-3-1 as the game progressed with Rooney dropping just behind Van Persie, Scholes and Fletcher playing just in front of the back four, and Welbeck and Young pushing up in support of the prolific Dutchman.
Anders Lindegaard: Solid performance from the Danish stopper. Didn’t have much to do, and perhaps should have got a stronger hand on Dyers cross that led to the Mackie goal, but otherwise a comfortable afternoon for the Dane. 6
Rafael: Continued his great form. Frustrated Adel Taarabt, and got forward well to provide some decent crosses. Surely in need of a rest, especially with Jones and Smalling able to fill in at rightback. West Ham in midweek an ideal opportunity for the Brazilian to put his feet up. 7
Rio Ferdinand: Struggled with the pace of Cissé, but experience showed as he made a couple of good interceptions to break up dangerous attacks. With Evans, Smalling and Jones all now excellent and reliable performers, this be his last season at the club. 6
Jonny Evans: Solid game. Defended solidly, and got himself onto the scoresheet with a header from a Rooney corner. Making a pleasant habit of being a handful at setpieces, as this was his third goal of the season. 7
Patrice Evra: Provided a good outlet down the left hand side, and often was the only source of service down that side with Ashley Young being largely ineffective. Defended solidly as well to cap off a decent afternoon for the Frenchman. 7
Ashley Young: His form is worrying. Woeful in possession at times. Him being substituted led to United playing at a higher tempo and subsequently taking the game away from Rangers. 5
Paul Scholes: Looks increasingly like he’ll be better suited coming on after 70 minutes to either chase the game against tired legs in the opposition, or to keep possession of the ball when defending a slender lead. Frugal in possession as always, but lacked the energy of Anderson. Picked up his 5th yellow card of the season, which means an automatic 1 match ban. 6
Darren Fletcher: First league start since his illness. Although not quite at his best, showed enough energy and desire to cover every blade of grass at Old Trafford. Wonderful header to give United the lead, and that he managed to complete 90 minutes should be a source of delight for Sir Alex. Man of the Match 8
Danny Welbeck: Bit of a hit and miss game for the young Mancunian. Did well at times when he drifted centrally, but often underwhelmed when receiving the ball in the wide right area. Should be considered exclusively as a centre forward. 6
Wayne Rooney: Bit subdued on his first appearance since a bout of tonsilitis. Fizzled sporadically, but his usual trademark all round game wasn’t as polished as it normally is. Two fantastic corners for the Evans and Fletcher goals. 6
Robin Van Persie: the brightest light for United in that dreary, turgid opening hour. Fantastic movement and had a couple of half chances blocked. H continues to be a focal point for United attacks, and should be on the scoresheet again soon. 7
Anderson for Paul Scholes (59): Kept his highly encouraging run of form going with an influential display from the bench. As in midweek he provided skill, drive and a cutting edge as he produced a magnificent pass to set up the Chicharito goal. Looking more like the player Sir Alex hoped he would become when he shelled out £18m to sign the Brazilian from Porto. The manager described his display as having “changed the game”. 7
Chicharito for Ashley Young (59): The little Mexican continues to be the spark United need when coming on as a substitute. Scored his 8th goal in last 8 games. Joined Van Persie up front as Rooney went to the left and Welbeck continued down the right in a 4-4-2. 7
Nick Powell for Danny Welbeck (79): Was rewarded for a promising display in Turkey with another run out in the league. Used the ball well the few times he was in possession and helped United cruise through the last 15 minutes. Seems to be increasingly in Sir Alex Ferguson’s thoughts. United went into a diamond formation when he came on, with Anderson at the base, Fletcher to the right hand side, Rooney to the left, with Powell just behind Chicharito and Van Persie. 6