Game in a sentence

The comeback kids narrative lives, as Manchester United come from behind to destroy the dreams of Villan supporters round the globe.

Observations

  • Chicharito is the best striker in the EPL at this moment. His form has carried across all levels of play, including another splendid performance today. Three goals — really two, but awarding Ron Vlaar with an own goal was especially harsh — confirms what we thought. In responding to SAF’s challenge to ‘step up’ — apologies — his game, the diminutive forward has provided Manchester United with another lethal attacking option.
  • This is a cruel game. One in which solid performances are sometimes rewarded with defeat. Once again Christian Benteke provided mouth watering play, owning Chris Smalling en route to setting up Andreas Weimann’s first goal of the season late in the first half. Though Smalling acquitted himself well as the game wore on, Benteke’s combination of  strength and speed should frighten rival clubs. This guy can play.
  • Wiemann would strike again, five minutes into the final half. Benteke’s dummy, Agbonlahor’s cross and the Austrian’s finish was made possible by some lax defending from Rafael.
  • Villa’s success in the first half can be attributed to excellent play from Ashley Westwood, Barry Bannan and Enda Stevens. The trio effectively shut down Paul Scholes. This made Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney sit even deeper in the midfield, neutering United’s attack.
  • Gabby Agbonlahor continues to thrive on the wing. Unburdened from a commitment to scoring goals, the Englishman is proving he can be the wing man to Benteke. Even more promising is Agbonlahor’s commitment to fitness. He doesn’t last 90 minutes last season in a game like this.
  • SAF’s watch tapping display in the 60th minute provided comic relief in a tense game. Really Fergie?
  • David De Gea could’ve done better on Weimann’s first marker, but the Spanish goalkeeper did extremely well to keep United in the game with an excellent reaction save on a Benteke header late in the second half. Though they were ahead — a seemingly impossible feat when it comes to playing Manchester United at home — Villa did not sit back. For that I laud their effort. Positive football is fun to watch.
  • For all the good Westwood & Co. did early, they couldn’t hold back Scholes for long. The ageless wonder put Rafael free, who in turn set up Chicharito for the equalizer.
  • United would find the winning goal off a play that should become familiar by season’s end. A beautiful free kick from RVP found an unmarked Hernandez. 3-2. The story repeats itself. Twitter trolls rejoice.
  • As much as this game was exciting — and it was — the depressing realization for neutrals is some things may never change. For all the good they did early, Villa were unable to hold on. It wasn’t inevitable, no matter what the pundits want you to believe, but their capitulation speaks to the sheer depth and quality this Manchester United side possess. Four points clear of the other contenders — Chelsea and City play tomorrow — United have made asserted themselves as the team to beat this season. You may beat them early. But try getting through 90 minutes before writing off the red devils.
  • 1995 was a long, long time ago.

Three stars

1. Javier Hernandez

2. Ashley Westwood

3. Christian Benteke