Date:Saturday January 23 2010
Wayne Rooney did it again. He just can't stop scoring this season it seems. His performance against Hull today wasn't his best this season but it was his best ever goal return from a single game as he hit them for four.
The 4-0 scoreline is misleading and accurate at the same time. Misleading because United kept us on the edge of our seat in anxiety as missed chances piled up after taking an 8th-minute lead and it was only in the last 10 minutes we could relax. But accurate because United, despite leaving out key players, dominated Hull from the start to finish.
The unusual midfield four of Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, Park did very well to put Hull under pressure and they created plenty of openings for Rooney and Owen. The former took his first chance; the latter missed several good opportunities and it was clearly not going to be his day.
And in the second half it looked like United might regret missing all those chances as we lost our fluency and Hull gradually edged their way back into the game. They had a great chance as well when Ghilas' shot crawled inches wide of the post. But Fergie's substitutions were timely and effective: the excellent but tiring Scholes was replaced by Gibson who gave away plenty of balls but at least got in the way all the time and made some timely interceptions while Dimitar Berbatov injected some composure up front.
This allowed Rooney to flourish in the final minutes: first he latched onto a pass into the area after Nani whacked the post with a free-kick and he brutally fired it into the net. Nani was the provider again a few minutes later: his pinpoint cross was headed in from close range by our on-fire striker who beat his best ever total of a league campaign (16) in style. In added time he controlled Berbatov's brilliant pass and between three hesitant defenders he poked it home.
So, 4-0, a thumping victory as we hoped and the perfect preparation for the Citeh game. Rooney has now scored 19 league goals this season, one more than what Ronaldo managed last season. He's in great form and as long as he's fit, we have a chance of winning something serious this season. The return of Ferdinand added some stability to the defence, already apparent today - let's hope the big man can keep it up against more challenging opponents as well.
Right now United are top of the league; yet Arsenal have one, Chelsea have two games in hand so this position is unlikely to be permanent. But if we hit a reasonable form and manage to keep it up we'll be in the mix come the end of the season. We'll see.
Date:Saturday January 23 2010
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