1. David De Gea ill but at the stadium? Ben Amos on the starting XI? Lindegaard with ligament damage? Keeper crisis. After his display against Liverpool, I am hardly surprised that De Gea was dropped to the bench. I defended him at every minor mistake he made but his errors against Liverpool warrants his demotion and we are going to have to work from scratch on him. Amos could of brought a table and chairs out and sat in the United goal tonight such was the lack of threat from the visitors but it was exactly what we needed after Liverpool. A nice and straight forward 2-0 victory ahead of our bumper month of fixtures including Chelsea and Tottenham away as well as Liverpool visiting Old Trafford. These are testing times for us in the title race but with Lindegaard apparently out with ligament damage, will De Gea be up to the challenge? He has to be, simple as that.
2. United are toothless without Rooney. United had 72% possession in the first half but barely tested Sorenson in Stoke’s goal and the lifeline of the penalty was exactly what we needed to get into the game. Against Liverpool on Saturday, we displayed the same dominance of possession which led to hardly any goalscoring opportunities because once we got to the side of the penalty area, we didnt have the creativity to cut through the last line of defence. It was the same situation against Stoke whose disciplined display made it hard for us and if it wasn’t for Antonio Valencia, we would of struggled to make openings in second half.
3. Pogba makes it to the big time! What a fantastic 20 minute cameo from our highly coveted midfielder. On the same day that FA Youth Cup winning team-mate Morrison was sold to West Ham (goodbye, finally), Pogba seamlessly slotted into a comfortable match and brought his talent to the Premier League. After his medicore Carling Cup performances, tonight could of been a hit or a miss really but he showed fantastic confidence as soon as he stepped onto the pitch with fizzing crosses and desire fuelled tackles. At a time where United are calling the old guard out of retirement to strengthen the midfield, to see an academy product make a confident debut is exactly what we needed. We have always placed great emphasis on the evolution of youth into the first team and judging by his professional performance tonight, he may find his chances come sooner rather than later. You could see SAF saying “Did you enjoy that son?” as he walked off the pitch – suffice to say I think so.
4. Valencia is the first name on the teamsheet. What more can you say? Valencia has been out-and-out my player of the month. He has just been absolutely fantastic. From the first whistle to the 90th minute of every game, he seems to have an endless tank of energy that keeps allowing him to burst past defenders and fizz in dangerous balls every time he cuts in. Our strikers need to make more runs to the front post because we would be scoring countless tap-ins if Valencia keeps up this form. With Rooney and Nani both out, arguably our two most individual chance creating players in recent times, to have Valencia showing the sort of consistency he did prior to his ankle injury is perfect.
5. Gibson, woah, Gibson, woah, we didn’t want him to stay, he scores more goals that way, Gibson, woah, Gibson, woah! Who would of thought that Gibson would of popped up with a screamer to send City crashing to defeat at Goodison Park? Stick it to them Gibbo! That was the one thing that all United fans will remember fondly about Gibson – that when he connected with a ball sweetly, it would fly off his foot like a possessed animal. Tonight turned out to be a profitable night for United who are now equal on points with City at the top as well as decreasing the goal difference by three. The next month of football is definitely going to make or break our season and with the word on the grapevine that Ashley Cole won’t play against us on Sunday, Valencia and United fans alike will be licking their lips at the prospect of kicking Chelsea further down their spiralling ladder into the abyss of the Premier League.