Man United 2 Everton 0: Lessons learned as Red Devils move 12 clear
Manchester United 2 Everton 0: What lessons did we learn as the Red Devils continue their march towards title number 20?
Fantastic first half as United tighten grip on title
With the home supporters unveiling a banner that read: “We’ll never die” to commemorate that fateful day in Munich, emotions were bound to run high in a crucial encounter. Only 10 minutes into the match, Robin Van Persie let the occasion get the better of him when he uncharacteristically missed an open goal having been played into the inside right channel with a delightful through ball from Wayne Rooney. By the Flying Dutchman’s standards, it was a dreadful miss. Three minutes later, however, the home side took control when said villain wriggled free from Johnny Heitinga far too easily to square it to Ryan Giggs. The veteran midfielder made no mistake as he slotted the ball home with ease for his first league goal of the campaign. Giggs has now scored in every Premier League season to date. Phil Jones began the match in fine form and he managed to keep the usually dangerous Marouane Fellaini wholly quiet. He had a moment to forget, however, when he blazed his wild shot miles over the opposition goal from just outside of the area. The first 25 minutes saw United dominate Everton in every sense of the word. They threatened to score on multiple occasions, broke their opponents down and denied them a glimpse of goal. Everton did manage to edge their way back into the game with a fabulous dipping shot by Leon Osman, but it was matched by a fantastic save from David De Gea. Everton had further opportunities but couldn’t make them count as Kevin Mirallas crossed just behind Victor Anichebe who was unable to connect. By this point, Everton were dominant in possession but a terrible lapse in concentration proved costly. The back four were far too high up the pitch leaving Rafael to play a one-two with Rooney. The Brazilian then stabbed a through ball to Van Persie who rounded Tim Howard to score and atone for his earlier miss. The referee blew for half-time and Manchester United tightened their vice grip on the title.
Second-half sees United exorcise the demons of last season
Having rescued 21 points from losing positions coupled with their explosive start to the season, the neutral was expecting Everton to come out and produce a gung-ho performance akin to last year’s breathtaking 4-4 draw. Unfortunately, this second-half was anything but. Neither team really got going and the introduction of Nikica Jelavic was about the most exiting event. Neither side managed to keep hold of the ball and it was a real midfield tussle. Leighton Baines was off-colour as Antonio Valencia skipped past him on several occasions. Sir Alex will be pleased at how his team kept Everton quiet with Fellaini having little impact. Howard produced an outstanding save to deny Tom Cleverly with an effort that Paul Scholes himself would have been proud of.
The Toffees seem stuck
Having started the season in fantastic fashion, Everton have since waned, notching up only two wins in their last six games. Both Anichebe and Jelavic did little to impose themselves on the game and Fellaini was disappointing throughout. A Romelu Lukaku type player would suit Everton down to the ground, as they require a mercurial forward who can dig them out of a hole. Having relinquished an impressive advantage last season, it is inconceivable that Manchester United will make the same mistake this time round. They moved 12 points clear with 12 games left to play and although they weren’t at their fluent best, the most coherent explanation is that they had one eye fixed firmly on their date with nine-time European champions, Real Madrid on Wednesday.