Who Needs Defenders, Right?
The injury situation at the back is getting ridiculous: we were forced to start today's game at Upton Park with a back four of Fletcher, Neville, Brown and Evra. And we finished it with Fletcher, Carrick, Evra, Giggs which is beyond belief: we have one fit defender out of the nine registered for the Champions League.
But their absence was hardly noticed today as we annihilated West Ham without allowing them as much as a sniff on goal. Gibson was a surprise starter in midfield after his Carling Cup heroics in midweek with Michael Carrick on the bench (because of strategic reasons, as Fergie has revealed since) and with Scholes and Anderson alongside him we comfortably bossed the first half. Giggs and Valencia were both working very hard and we were in complete control throughout.
There was just one little problem: we created virtually nothing. With such a back four, caution and keeping the ball and protecting the defenders were always going to be the most important points but we should have placed more emphasis on creating shooting opportunities for the artillery, Gibson and Scholes. Instead we kept getting the ball out to the flanks and delivering hopeless early crosses which had no chance to reach a thus isolated Rooney.
But at the end of the half United broke the dreadlock in spectacular fashion: Scholes outmuscled Kovac on the edge of the box and unleashed a stunning left-footed strike that flew into the net even though Green got a touch on it.
This changed the dynamic of the game and United looked much more confident and threatening in the second-half. Early on a classic counter-attack involving Rooney and Giggs ended up with the otherwise disappointing Gibson smashing home a great effort from 23 yards out - game over. Kuszczak had to make an impressive save right after our second goal but that was West Ham's last throw of the dice: the champions got into their stride especially with Berbatov replacing Gibson. The passing became a lot more penetrative and it was clear that West Ham were wilting under the pressure.
And the collapse was quite spectacular: two deadly moves within two minutes emphasised the superiority of United on a day when our midfielders once again rose to the challenge of goalscoring magnificently. On 71 minutes Antonio Valencia turned in Anderson's low cross then a minute later Wayne Rooney sweeped home the increasingly influential Valencia's pass from close range after a scintillating attack.
United took their foot off the pedal and West Ham could have pulled one back but it hardly mattered, if at all. United were imperious in the second half and the only cloud on our sky is the injuries suffered by Gary Neville and Wes Brown which means we've simply run out of defenders. But hey, who needs them if we can play like this?
By the way, it's the fourth time United scored four or more goals in the league this season, with 15 games gone. Last season we managed to do it five times. In total.