Wanderers hosted Man United at the Reebok Saturday evening. The first half was argy-bargy as both teams wrestled for control. Each side had chances during the often end-to-end passages of play. The breakthrough was fortunate for United and abysmal for Bolton when Samual carelessly own-goaled right before the interval.
Bolton continued playing well in the second half; United continued to play better. Berbatov tapped home after 60 total following an audacious left-footed strike by Fletcher. Nani reamed his opposite full-back after 78 played with skill to setup another tap-in for Berbatov 3-0. Nani did the same thing five minutes later for Gibson to finish, 4-0.
van der Sar (8) It’s not a goalie’s fault when he doesn’t have that much to do. He is, though, accountable for what is tasked of him. The Dutchman made a world-class save today, his second of the season for those counting. His distribution was fine, and he had several important decisions to make as Bolton piled their meatshields forward, despite Wanderers only shooting on target five times. Clean sheet.
Neville (7) Some United fans think Neville has little left, but against sides like Bolton he’s very serviceable. Sure, he’s ploddingly slow; but he’s wily: That’s why everyone hates him. Still a quality footballer, if not defender.
Evans (6.5) Unable to redeem his form from last season, the Northern Irishman at least put a decent game under his belt today. Bolton are a challenging team for opposing backlines. They’re huge, and a few of them can even play. Therefore, Evans had to be big today, and he was big enough.
Vidic (9) Is there a better style matchup for Vidic than Kevin Davies? The Serbian monster was at home in the trenches today. He’ll be gutted he didn’t finish the match with a bloody nose. The happiest player on the pitch not to smile, Vida enjoyed himself thoroughly today, as all observing neutrals should have. Dominant. Brilliant.
Evra (7) Extremely consistent season continues. Over-hyped as a defender, possibly, Patty Evra has been owned by Bolton’s Davies before, but not today. He patrolled up and down the left wing willy-nillily, as usual. Solid.
Fletcher (8.5) It’s so easy giving Fletcher gaudy ratings. United’s best player this season continued his world-class form today. The war wagon rumbled all across the pitch today. A brilliantly driven, long-range, left-footed strike optioned Berbatov to easily tap-in their crucial second goal. He’d be player of the year in England and elsewhere; if he was English and uglier.
Giggs (6) Looked nifty, just didn’t get stuck-in. His left-footedness was a virtue apart from Scholes in the middle. He provides another creative avenue for United through the pitch’s core, but other players asserted themselves more ostensibly today.
Scholes (7) Easy job today: Lay back, ping the ball around, and let Fletcher do all the dirty work. That’s a winning formula, and a practical one for the aging maestro. Dangerous when forward.
Valencia (6) Anomalously quiet game from the most consistently improving player for United this season.
Nani (8) Although I always look forward to lambasting Nani, his shameless lampooning of Bolton’s right-back on several occasions in the second half begrudges me. Even in the first half Nani played within his means, which is refreshing, but he must continue to use pace over trickery in the middle of the pitch to be consistently effective. Good game today; if only a poor one wouldn’t almost surely follow.
Berbatov (8) Berba on form drops deep, wave-rides defenders, and creates chances for overlap and interplay. Though, he still throws little tantrums here are there, and they’re cute. His frustration is natural, though; imagine if you were the classiest player on every team you played. None of your teammates are likely to do the cool shit you think of. His positioning is still poor, at times, probably due to never-ending wine hangovers. Two deserved goals today for United’s most creative player. He’s yet to score as a substitute this season. United are 20-3-1 in games Berbatov starts.
Jaaskelainen (6) Should have done better on Fletcher’s driven shot. Otherwise didn’t have a lot to do besides pick the ball up out of his net. Good keeper on an average team.
Knight (6) Didn’t get worked or anything drastic as United fielded their lone striker. But his team lost 4-0 and Berbatov scored twice, so, you wouldn’t expect him holding his high too high tonight. Allowed Berba to nod goal-kicks onto his teammates. Made plenty of clearances, though.
Cahill (5) Cleared headers inevitably as United poured in crosses. Unfortunately three of those crossed ultimately ended up in his own net. Not good enough.
Samuel (4) Passed the ball into his own net under little pressure for the opener after a very even first-half. Not much else matters after that.
Ricketts (3) Got lolwtfowned by Nani several times which must really suck for someone’s self-esteem. Perhaps an intervention or vacation is in order; or a complete re-evaluation of his life’s meaning.
Cohen (6) The aptly-named Israeli had a few bright moments, but was playing against Darren Fletcher and a balanced United midfield, thereby sealing a darker fate for Cohen than he might otherwise deserve.
Muamba (6) Invoked a world-class save from van der Sar. Looks like a former Arsenal signing, plays like it too. Athletic but crafty, he could be named Song or Diaby, but without class around him, he’ll be hard-pressed to emulate their form, especially against United.
Wilshere (6.5) A bit slow, but his creativity punctuated an otherwise straightforward Bolton approach.
Lee (7) Korean was nifty on the right-side against Evra. Held on to the ball very well, turning sprightly on several occasions.
Elmander (6) Bolton played well, in part to his performance. He’s hulking, inevitably, but can work with the ball in addition to taking up space. Vidic owned his face aerially.
Davies (5) Vidic may as well have collared his neck and drug him around by chain tonite; in fact, he did. Davies could not and can not compete with the Serbian aerially, and without that ability, was virtually useless.
‘Lo and behold, Rooney doesn’t play and United still win. Ferguson should have begun resting his talisman sooner because Berba’s form is not a surprise nor a recent development. Darren Fletcher and Vidic share man-of-the-match plaudits as the former sustains the best form of his career while the latter made strides to return to his.
United compensate Chelsea’s goal difference, beating Bolton by a 4-0 scoreline that deceives how well Bolton played for 70 minutes but rightly renders United’s dominance across all 90.