Monday, August 25, 2008

Manchester United @ Portsmouth: Review

Manchester United at Portsmouth
Fratton Park

Starting Lineup: EVS, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Flethcer, O’Shea, Scholes, Anderson, Tevez, and Rooney

United had to deal with early pressure from Portsmouth but handled it well and only gave up one good chance. But United began to movie the ball really well under pressure, with quick passing and good movement off the ball, which kept Portsmouth off pace.

Portsmouth continued to create half-chances and did pressure united closer to the 30 minute mark. United had a difficult time getting out of pressure and Portsmouth looked capable of scoring throughout.

Anderson plays a great ball on the ground in-between the center and right back for Portsmouth to an onrushing Patrice Evra. He plays a strong ball low across the six yard box. Darren Fletcher gets to it and puts it past David James and just over the line. It might have come off the a sliding Sylvan Distin who had good position on Fletcher but Fletcher was able to force the ball over Distin and in. Good movement and finally Evra break through.

Rooney broke out today and played some fantastic football. After a great piece of movement and passing on the right, the ball was played into Wayne Rooney’s feet. He took a marvelous touch around an incoming defender and blasted his shot just wide of the left post. The keeper had no chance if the ball was half a foot on the other side of the post.

United ended the half looking determined to get a result.

No changes at the half and United look to hold on to another quality goal off a good run into a good position by Darren Fletcher.

During the early parts of the half Wayne Rooney should have had a goal that was disallowed by the linesman for offsides. He played his run perfectly and slots it under the on rushing David James. Credit to Rooney for not arguing and just playing his game.

Sol Campbell chopped down Rooney in the penalty box but no penalty was rewarded in the middle of the second half. And in the defense of the referee the ball was blocked before the ball got close to Rooney.

Rodrigo Possebon came on in the 74th minute for Anderson who had a good first game back for United. Anderson well take the next couple of days to recover and get ready for the SuperCup later this week. An international break means more travel for Anderson but he seems capable of coming up big when United need him.

United gained control over the game and for the most part kept Portsmouth quiet. The game ended with Portsmouth trying to break down the United defense but United held strong and United go on to win 1-0. Fletcher is United savior again with another good performance.

United closed space a lot better than they did against Newcastle, hopefully this form is the form we grow accustomed to this year. Tevez, Scholes, Rooney, and Anderson all played well going forward as Vidic and Ferdinand continued to perform at the top level. EVS came up with some good saves but was never really tested. Brown and Evra made good runs going forward and after the goal they dropped back and defended well. Possebon should be happy with playing a small but effective role and showed why Fergie has faith in him. United looked much better after a week of training and important mainstream players returning to the fold.

United are lacking a true wide men right now more than anything. Good services where not on the offering for a large majority of the game but good overlapping runs by Brown and Evra helped and ultimately brought the winning goal. United also lacked aerial ability, as usually, in the middle once the ball came in, but this is not new. United did, smartly, play most of there crosses low where Tevez and Rooney are more effective.

All in all United should be happy with the three points but cover is needed as United still have few options if an injury to arise on international duty, at the SuperCup, or in training. Fergie can concentrate on bringing in that elusive striker in the coming days before United take on Zenit St. Petersburg for the SuperCup.

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