We used to be United’s favourite opponents. Now they’re ours.
A double over United, not achieved since Noah was a lad, and the garden is much rosier than it was just a few days ago post Palace. The hyperbole will no doubt continue for a few more days, and rightly so, because it is a rare thing that we have to enjoy. But let’s not be too celebratory – after all, a team in 5th, 6 points higher than the opposition in 7th, ought to win. We need to believe in ourselves and believe that we are worthy to win such games, otherwise we run the risk of sounding like underdogs celebrating a rare cup upset over mightier opponents. We are 5th. We deserve to be 5th. We may even finish 4th.
Some degree of that thinking may have resulted in the tactical construction of our set up. Roberto Martinez, being hailed on Easter Sunday as the new Everton Messiah, probably felt that if we’d have taken on United in a toe to toe open flowing game, then we’d have been beaten. We’ll never know, because we won by playing containment and counter-attack, almost European-esque, and a joy it was to watch. A bit nerve wracking too if I’m honest!
I’m not so sure if we’d have been more open that we’d have lost, but I’m sure United would have scored, and I’m sure we’d have scored more than 2, given the flakiest defence I’ve seen in a top half team since, well, Newcastle. Twice. Anyway, all meaningless conjecture, well done Martinez, a brilliant result and a tactical triumph.
There are four people I want to pick out after the game.
The first, surprisingly, is Mark Clattenburg. I think he was excellent, quick and always up with play, let advantage have it’s place, and got most decisions bang on. The only one he missed was McCarthy nearly cleaning out Büttner and his ridiculous hair style, which was probably a pen althought no one claimed it.
Talking of McCarthy, I am running out of superlatives for this lad. Only £13m? You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if Real Madrid came in for him, after all they bought Gravesen so why not someone ten times better?! He just runs and runs and runs, always snapping at the heels or in the face of the oppo, so you know they’re going to be forced to pass, or just lose the ball to a boy in blue. He is consistently brilliant, not always the very best blue on the pitch, but by doing his bit every week, for me he is player of the season by a mile.
Seamus Coleman would be no2 for the season. Against United he must have completed 10 shuttle sprints up the right hand side, a couple down the middle, and always ‘and back again’, making sure he remembers he’s a defender after all. You’d be forgiven for not spotting that.
His sprint twin was Mirallas. A well taken goal, plus direct incisive running, this was Kevin at his best. When I see him sprinting, ball at feet, I just wonder if any defender would know what the heck to do. Luckily for them, he is prone to over run, but today his goal, his crosses, all superb. He even tracked back. Watch and learn Gerry.
These were my heroes amongst heroes today. Special mention to Alcaraz, calmly doing his bit in the second half, especially winning two or three headers from our corners, which had seemed a lost art! Stones was composure personified again. Baines was on it – again. Naisy ran his little white legs off and with a little more composure might have helped himself to at least one goal. Ross was hot and cold, Rom more interested this time, but balls still bounce off him too easily.
We have broken so many records this season, I just wonder if Arsenal have any chance of slipping up and allowing us just one more. I doubt it, but let’s just keep winning and see what happens.