Game in a sentence
Robin Van Persie steals three points from a valiant Southampton side that deserved better.
- Rickie Lambert for England? Rickie Lambert for England. The Saints’ striker’s header in the 16th minute put the home side ahead. It was a great ball in from Jason Puncheon – who was fantastic until manager Nigel Adkins took him off, we’ll get to that later. Once again United were exposed defensively. The return of Rio Ferdinand wasn’t the elixir for a team that simply cannot defend.
- No matter. With the best striker in the league at his disposal, Alex Ferguson is keen – probably not – to sit back and relax. Antonio Valencia capitalized on a Nathaniel Clyne slip and sent an excellent ball to a lurking RVP. The Dutchman adeptly chested the ball down to his left foot. He doesn’t miss from there. 1-1.
- While they were on the wrong side of the possession numbers, the Saints were tenacious in the midfield. The first half saw 16 successful tackles for Southampton to just seven for United. Morgan Schneiderlin was fantastic throughout. The 22 year old’s header in the 55th minute put Southampton ahead once again. And then Nigel Adkins took off his team’s three best players – Puncheon, Lambert and Adam Lallana. Absolutely bizarre and unneeded.
- Jos Hooiveld has had quite the time adjusting to the rigors of the Prem. The defender’s clumsy challenge on RVP in the box resulted in a penalty. On the ensuing kick Van Persie attempted a paneka that was saved by Kelvin Davis – he’s stopped the last three penalties he’s faced. Arsenal fans on twitter – myself included – began trolling. Little did we know what was to come.
- Lambert’s substitution came back to haunt Adkins in the 87th minute. Ferdinand, who towered over the Saints defense, hit the post with a header. Van Persie slotted home the rebound to equalize. So you’re nursing a one goal lead with a guy who is excellent in the air – and then you take him off. In this case parking the bus with Lambert playing deep would’ve been wise. Their performance against City was riveting but we learned what we needed to know about the newly promoted side. They play entertaining football but struggle defensively. Struggle is being kind.
- Hat-trick. In the second minute of stoppage time Van Persie put United ahead to complete an audacious smash and grab. This is why Ferguson brought him. In his 1,000th game, Fergie’s move for the Arsenal man was vindicated – again. Without him the red devils are near the bottom of the table. For all the slack Arsenal received last year for being a one man team, currently, United are exactly that. Shinji Kagawa was a non-factor, as was Danny Welbeck. Ferguson’s men will go as far as Robin Van Persie will take them. That’s probably not enough for the title.
1. Robin Van Persie
2. Morgan Schneiderlin
3. Adam Lallana