Aston Villa – Manchester United: Post match thoughts – Super subs, wingers and excitement

by Sam Peoples
Aston Villa 2 (Weimann, Weimann) Manchester United 3 (Hernandez, Hernandez, Vlaar OG)

Take a bow, Hernandez. In just a few weeks, Hernandez has gone from the fringes of the first team squad to one of the most important names on the team sheet and his wonderful second half “hat-trick” against Aston Villa this week saved Manchester United’s blushes.

Robin van Persie might be the name on everybody’s lips but nobody is in better form than Javier Hernandez right now. He has scored seven goals in his last eight appearances (eight if you credit the second against Villa as his goal) and he is showing the sort of form that earned him such plaudits in his debut season at Manchester United.

We really are spoilt for attacking options this year and Danny Welbeck hasn’t even started firing on all cylinders yet. The comparisons to the 1999 strike force are inevitable and Hernandez is now officially our “super sub” after coming off the bench to score winners against Chelsea and Aston Villa.

Comeback Kings. I don’t know whether I want Manchester United to make a return to our watertight defence keeping clean sheets or for us to continue falling behind just so we can have another comeback victory.

That makes it eight victories from losing positions already this season and we aren’t even halfway through November – staggering. That winning at all costs mentality is built into the veins of Manchester United and it is almost traditional that we play better after falling behind.

When Weimann netted his second at Villa Park on Saturday, it looked like we would slip to defeat but a Hernandez inspired comeback put cold water on that and one thing that no fan can complaint about this season is the excitement levels of watching Manchester United.

No wingers in form. When it was announced that left-back Enda Stevens would be making his Manchester United debut, Antonio Valencia should of been licking his lips. He should of eaten him alive – but it couldn’t have gone any different.

Antonio Valencia was atrocious. He reeked of a player with no confidence and he didn’t have an answer for Aston Villa’s doubling up tactic. Time and time again, he didn’t try and go round the player but simply kept playing it backwards and our attacking impetus was limp because of it.

Ashley Young wasn’t much better either. I thought a return to Villa Park would be the fuel for his performance but he didn’t play well at all, so much so that Sir Alex Ferguson took him off at half time.

With Nani injured as well, we don’t have any wingers at all who are playing well at all. It might force Sir Alex to utilise the diamond formation for the next few weeks as our central midfielders are looking much stronger with Cleverley and Anderson itching for more game time.

Limp first half. Another game and another poor start. For the first ten minutes, Manchester United looked like the home team. We dominated possession and played some patient football, stroking the ball around with consummate ease.

That didn’t last very long. As soon as Aston Villa got into the game, they looked the more likely to score and did so on the stroke of half time after Benteke’s brute strength opened up an opportunity for Weimann who lashed an effort into the net.

We obviously had a game plan to expose the full backs and we sprayed a lot of diagonal balls out to our wingers but when that failed, we didn’t have a back up plan. We had no penetration through the middle and with Scholes and Carrick being our central midfield partnership, we were horribly exposed to the counter attack and could of easily conceded earlier than we did.

Our attacking prowess might be saving our blushes week in week out but there will soon be a game where we are punished for our first half performances, so we need to fix the problem sooner rather than later if we are to avoid dropping points as a consequence.

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