Dominant United Have Too Much For Stoke
Ryan Giggs won the PFA Player of the Year award last season despite starting only 12 Premier League games. Many, myself included, argued that he should not have been given it, as it is not a career award. It looks like he may well be in the running to retain the award though: he's in better form than at any time since the 2006/07 season.
After a masterclass at Spurs, he made 3 goals against City and now came on and won us the game with two fine passes at Stoke. He showed Nani what a football brain can do, even if you're not that quick at 36...
Another player who's in his 2006/07 form is Paul Scholes. At Stoke today, he banged 50 yard passes all over the place and they always found their target, picked up all the loose balls in the world and distributed them superbly. How long can the two veterans keep it up is the big question - right now they are carrying the team.
Scholes' excellence and Fletcher's reliable, solid teamwork ensured United were always dominant at the Britannia but we had to work hard for the goals. In the first half we simply could not pick our way through the masses which crowded the penalty area as the Premier League's narrowest pitch looked even narrower than it actually is...
Valencia had a golden chance, Nani - quite ineffective, unfortunately - had a curling shot brilliantly saved by Sorensen, O'Shea failed to react and poke the ball into the net when Rooney's beautiful turn gave him the chance - these were our biggest chances of the first 45 minutes which we dominated to an almost embarassing extent. Stoke were quite clearly content to settle for a point as they did not even try to attack us.
They came out for the second half with a little more courage but could never seriously trouble United who continued to dominate possession but lacked the cutting edge up front. We'll have no Ronaldo to bail us out in these situations but it looks like Fergie only has to say 'Arise, Sir Ryan' and the hero will save the day. That's what happened today: Giggs came in on the pitch in the 55th minute, replacing Nani and not long after he set up Dimitar Berbatov who could not miss from two yards out.
A mention must go to Fletcher as well who found Giggs with a sublime pass - it was neat, one-touch football when I thought that if we find our way through the Stoke defence, it will be via a deflection or a free-kick or some individual howler. Giggs finished the job when he magicked the ball on O'Shea's head from a free-kick and the Irishman headed it into the far corner to seal the three points.
Giggs himself could have embellished the scoreline but he blazed the ball over after expertly controlling Scholes' umpteenth fine pass. It would have been his 100th United goal but it did not bother him in the slightest: the job was done and once again, he had played a major part in getting it done. We are now back at the top of the table, playing well but the big question is: will the oldies be capable of keeping up this form?