Man United 4 QPR 0: Three talking points as Angel di Maria stars
Man United 4 QPR 0: Player ratings as Angel di Maria impresses at Old Trafford
Di Maria shines
After a stuttering start to the season, which included an opening-day defeat against Swansea and an embarrassing exit in the League Cup against MK Dons, Louis van Gaal made a statement of intent by bringing in Angel Di Maria. On paper, the signing of the midfielder looked an unnecessary one and was just designed to show the rest of the Premier League that the Red Devils still had the pulling power to sign the world’s top players. Talent clearly doesn’t come cheap though as the Red Devils broke the British transfer record to sign the Real Madrid man for £59.7m. He also adds a different kind of option to their midfield with pace, strength and pinpoint passing and this might allow Wayne Rooney to play as an out-and-out striker. Incredibly in his final season at the Bernabeu, the talismanic Argentine created a staggering 90 goal-scoring chances in the league, with 17 assists to his name in La Liga. Heralded as part of the fantastically named ‘Gaalacticos’, Di Maria did justice to the famous number seven shirt on his home bow as he put on a midfield masterclass. Queens Park Rangers were helpless throughout his x-minute cameo as the 26-year-old netted the opener with a curling free kick before his powerful 50 yard burst ended with Ander Herrera doubling the home side’s lead. Despite much of the pre-match focus being on the deadline day arrival of Radamel Falcao, he wasn’t to be overshadowed and was the star of the show. His style, which focuses on delivering early crosses, should also mean a turnaround in the statistical weak points, with just three successful crosses (from 65 attempts) prior to this encounter. Although his contribution alone won’t help guide Van Gaal’s team to silverware, Di Maria has the ability to change a game and make headlines.
Wastefulness could cost Rangers
A hallmark of the last two Premier League campaigns for Queen’s Park Rangers has been their inability to score enough goals, which was compounded by a porous defence. In their last two campaigns at this level in 2011-12 and 2012-13, none of their strikers reached double figures, with top scorers Heidar Helguson and Loic Remy netting just nine and six respectively. With a lack of depth in this department again looking to be a problem, manager Harry Redknapp will be hoping that veteran Bobby Zamora and rising star Charlie Austin can help fire them to safety. Their main weakness of not having a natural goal-scorer has been addressed in this season’s crop of players as Austin seemingly has an unerring ability to score goals – no matter which level he is playing at. Since being plucked from semi-professional Wessex League team Poole Town in 2009, the former bricklayer has struck 103 goals in 194 appearances, and has shown incredible consistency with an average of a goal every two games. Although the 25-year-old undoubtedly has a lot of ability in front of goal, a lot of pressure will be piled on the shoulders of this top-flight novice. Statistics already show the extent of his importance as although Redknapp’s team have had just two shots fewer than table-toppers Chelsea this season, they have scored 10 fewer goals, with just one from a total of 33 shots. Old habits clearly die hard though as pacey winger Matt Phillips failed to make the most of their best chance in the 30th minute at Old Trafford, after David De Gea mishit a clearance. Niko Kranjcar was also presented with a good opportunity in the opening minutes of the second half but his powerful effort was too close to the home keeper. Given the competitive nature of the league and the good starts made by the likes of Leicester, Rangers know they have to get going sooner rather than later.
Is the 3-5-2 experiment over?
After Louis van Gaal used the formation to great effect during this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, it wasn’t a surprise to see that he initially tried to usher it into his philosophy at United. What caught some observers off guard though was that other clubs in the division began their flirtation with the system, which had seemingly become the ‘en vogue’ thing. In fact, the only other regular purveyor prior to this unexpected love affair was Hull City, who employed it to it’s full effect in their successful promotion season to the Premier League and have continued to stick with it. There is talk that he may soon move away from the use of wing backs, after his deadline day splurge on attacking players like Gaston Ramirez, Hatem Ben Arfa and £10m man Abel Hernandez. While other teams such as Roberto Martinez’s Wigan team have also used it, the efficiency of the manner that Steve Bruce’s side employ it in can only be admired. On the opening day of the campaign, Harry Redknapp used the system in their 1-0 defeat against the Tigers, with Richard Dunne partnering new signings Rio Ferdinand and Stephen Caulker at the heart of the backline. Redknapp kept faith with it in their next game but it proved to be a step too far as the R’s were demolished 4-0 by a rampant home side and it wasn’t a shock to see that the vastly experienced 67-year-old abandoned it in their narrow win over Sunderland last weekend. Both sides lined up with more familiar formations at the Theatre of Dreams, with United playing 4-1-2-1-2 and the visitors playing 4-5-1 but their fortunes were vastly different as the hosts put in a dominant display. While the future of this formation may well be in doubt, it’s fleeting appearance on the tactics board of a handful of changing rooms will never be forgotten.