Date:Tuesday February 2 2010
I'm always eager to point out Sir Alex Ferguson's perceived mistakes so it's only fair if I give him praise when he deserves it because he got just about everything right at Arsenal - and United won 3-1 with a magnificent display.
It was vital that we do not surrender the midfield so going with three in the middle was the way to go - check.
He quickly recognised that Scholes should not be played deep because he can't keep up with Fabregas and his rash tackling might be costly there. Pushing him further up the field and pulling Carrick back ensured stability and good passing as well.
Many eyebrows were raised when Valencia was left out in favour of Nani but that, too, was a correct decision, based on the Portuguese's form and on the fact that he's a better option for a three-pronged attack as Valencia's one-footedness makes him a little predictable and one-dimensional to really excel there - he's better on the right of a midfield four though he is competent as a wide attacker of course.
It was clear that Fergie earmarked Clichy as the weakest link in the Arsenal side and as the left back was tormented beyond dignity by Nani in the first half one must conclude that Fergie's reasoning was sound and Clichy was indeed an accident waiting to happen on the left of that less than watertight defence.
Park was a good choice on the other flank because he is invaluable in defending from the front and Giggs looked a little tired against City anyway. The Korean's energy is ideal against a team as exuberant and vibrant as Arsenal - it's no coincidence he scored three goals against them, more than against any other team.
His substitutions were well-timed and wise. Scholes has just started tiring a little when he brought him off and though Giggs did not play particularly well, his coolness had a good effect and quite simply he covered more ground than a tiring Scholes could have done.
In the end, it was mostly timewasting of course but it was wise to bring off Park and Nani at the end when they looked totally exhausted. Berbatov and Valencia were introduced with the aim of seeing out the remaining few minutes without conceding again. Both did a good job of shielding the ball and they played their part.
So, congratulations Sir Alex, it was one of those games when all of his calls were correct. And we reaped the rewards.
Date:Tuesday February 2 2010
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