In his first league start in just under two months, Michael Carrick showed just why he is so invaluable to Manchester United. Normally an understated performer, the midfielder took centre stage here, providing the assist for Marouane Fellaini’s opener and scoring a lovely guided header himself to make it 2-0. He may not be the flashiest, but Carrick certainly has the ability to control a game that no other United player has. His intelligence both on and off the ball is vital for his side. His continued presence will be key if van Gaal’s side are to make a push for a top-four finish and with so many important games coming up, the timing of his return might just have been perfect as perfect as his passing today.
It’s taken until March, but United have finally had a performance worth boasting about. It was an accomplished display and against a good side to boot. Carrick and Ander Herrera provided a perfect balance in centre midfield, not only being solid but providing the creative spark that United so often lack. Mauricio Pochettino was forced into a change as early as the 30th minute to try and combat Tottenham’s dominance, but by then the game was already won. Juan Mata staked a claim to be kept in the starting 11 when Angel Di Maria becomes available again, giving Danny Rose a torrid time. Wayne Rooney once again looks comfortable when being played in his preferred centre-forward role. Who knew that players play better when played in their original positions?
Europa League used to be Tottenham’s go to excuse for performances as terrible as this. They are however, out of Europe now and didn’t have that midweek distraction leading up to this game. Their hopes of getting back into the Champions League are also slimming by the minute. They’ve won two of the six league games they’ve played since their derby victory over Arsenal in early February and are now six points off the top four. Mauricio Pochettino’s training methods were praised to have given Spurs more stamina that lead to late wins. His side however are starting to look a little bit jaded and their season is threatening to peter out into the void if they don’t find their form again soon.
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