1. Wayne Rooney is given a role to revel in
Last week on the blog, I stated how I felt Rooney needed to continue playing up top if Louis van Gaal was to get the best out of his captain. Yesterday he was the lone front man with a decent supporting cast and his performance was out of the top drawer. His goal was the knockout punch that saw the score become unassailable. But it was his overall performance that was most impressive. He was industrious and always looking for the ball and he displayed his considerable skill on a number of occasions in beating defenders. The Englishman was one of the many United players who ended up really giving Eric Dier the runaround in the Spurs defence. At last, Van Gaal may have finally found the answer to the Rooney problem.
2. Marouane Fellaini continues to prove his worth
During his time at Everton, Fellaini often performed best when utilising his best attributes just behind a front man. In fact, it was he and Nikica Jelavic whose combination led to the result that became the catalyst for United’s collapse at the back end of the 2011/12 season and it was the Belgian who gave the United backline such a torrid time at the start of the next season too. This season he has shown he is still able to find such form when called upon and the qualities he possesses were on display once again in yesterday’s game. He was a constant menace to Dier and Jan Vertonghen and even managed to get himself on the scoresheet with a fabulous finish past a helpless Hugo Lloris. Whilst not the man to sign him, Van Gaal has at least found a way to get the best out of Fellaini at Manchester United.
3. Juan Mata finally comes into his own
There has been an awful lot of revisionism from Chelsea fans in recent months about Mata’s influence in his time at the club. Many forget the integral role he played in the march to the club’s first European Cup in its history. He was excellent in his first season in England and continued to outshine the majority of his teammates for the next eighteen months too before being told he didn’t fit in with Jose Mourinho’s vision for the future. It’s been a long road for Mata to find his place in the current United team. He has looked a little lost for the majority of games and despite his relatively impressive tallies in both the goals and assists tables, his future at the club has been in some doubt. But the classy Spaniard finally looked at home in a red shirt yesterday for the first time as he weaved his steady influence into the game and conducted much of the forward play. Every time he touched the ball he looked as if he would provide a chance for one of his team mates and his influence will once again need to be felt if United are to put Liverpool’s top four chances to bed this coming weekend.
4. Angel di Maria may not have a place at Anfield
Di Maria’s suspension gave Van Gaal a chance to utilise Juan Mata in the team and tinker ever so slightly with the formation and it would be hard to argue that it didn’t work as United dominated from the first kick. The Argentinian will be back available for selection this Sunday when the Reds make the trip across to Liverpool but it would be difficult to suggest that he deserves to jump straight back into the side. There are a couple of players that he could potentially replace in the first XI but not one of those would be deserving of being dropped. Mata is surely nailed on to start at Anfield and Ashley Young has done little to suggest that Di Maria, on current form, would be able to oust him from the team.
5. Tottenham Hotspur’s Old Trafford hoodoo is back
In Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year in management, Spurs ended their 23-year wait for a victory at the Theatre of Dreams and last year they were one of many sides to defeat David Moyes’ United side at home. Yesterday’s performance from the visitors was the kind that the Old Trafford faithful had become accustomed to during the majority of Ferguson’s reign. They looked scared and overawed by the occasion and subsequently posed United little threat. They continually gave the ball away and looked highly unlikely to get on the scoresheet throughout the entire ninety minutes. It may well be that the home side were just too good for the opposition but Spurs’ poor performance was a big reason behind the dominance that United enjoyed.