Newcastle 0 Man United 3: Lessons learned as Red Devils impress
Newcastle 0 Man United 3: What lessons did we learn as the Red Devils secured an impressive victory at St James' Park?
Newcastle’s set piece woes
After selecting an attacking line-up for the trip to the Sports Direct Arena, Sir Alex Ferguson clearly thought that attack would be the best form of defence. In the first 15 minutes, the visitors stormed out the blocks to open up a two-goal lead against a shellshocked Magpies side, with both strikes being netted by defenders. The weakness was first exposed inside seven minutes as Robin van Persie’s accurate corner found Jonny Evans, who powerfully headed past a helpless Steve Harper. It was a case of dejà vu soon after as skipper Patrice Evra ghosted in to nod home Wayne Rooney’s delivery at the near post. On both occasions, it was clear to see that the centre back partnership of James Perch and Mike Williamson had played together just once this season. Without the presence of both Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini, confusion appeared to reign supreme as the blame game was starting to be played.
Dangerous Demba stifled
Prior to the game, in-form Demba Ba was identified as one of the main threats for Alan Pardew’s team, with the Senegal striker netting five games in his last three games. Much like their opponents, United have faced injury problems in defence, with the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the treatment room. It was a different story in this encounter though as the back four produced a solid performance to reduce the opportunities for Newcastle’s front two. He had just two opportunities in the first half, with both efforts going over the top of David De Gea’s crossbar. There was an added sense of desire to his play when the second period begun though, as he created a pair of chances inside the opening five minutes. Firstly, he beat a flapping De Gea to the ball and planted a header against the crossbar, before nodding wide from a good position in the penalty area. Statistics outline how important it was for the defence to help hold onto an advantage, as the Red Devils have lost just 10 Premier League games, out of 344, after being two or more goals in front.
Improving Cleverley plays his part
Just 11 days ago, midfielder Tom Cleverley netted his first goal for the club in a 2-1 victory against the same opponents, in the Capital One Cup. His impact in the United side seemingly grows stronger in every game, as a partnership with Michael Carrick begins to develop. Against a strong pairing of Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote, the 23-year-old showed his class in both defensive and attacking situations. Cleverley neatly interchanged between these two facets as he dropped deep to break up any attacking threat posed the home side, before starting off any moves to go forward. One criticism levelled at the youngster is that he doesn’t make the most of the chances that come his way in a game. This was shown in the 56th minute as he blazed over the bar, after Danny Welbeck’s powerful run created a first attempt on goal for over 40 minutes. He clearly enjoys playing against the Magpies though as a curling effort caught out the goalkeeper and doubled his goal-scoring tally for the club. Recent form suggests that there is definitely more to come and he seems to be a ready-made replacement for Paul Scholes, as and when the latter decides to finally hang up his boots.