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5 Things We Learned About Manchester United During Gameweek 6

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney wipes his head during their English Premier League soccer match against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton, northern England, September 26, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)

As the Premier League wraps up its 6th Gameweek, the league table begins to take a familiar yet still somewhat open shape. Manchester United failed to take advantage of the losses suffered by Chelsea and Arsenal when they made the short journey to Bolton and came away with only a point. As disappointing as the draw was for supporters, United were still able to jump ahead of Arsenal and into second place. As United still search for the attacking cohesion that won them three Premier League titles in a row, here are a few key observations for United fans to keep in mind after the draw and after the first six weeks of the season.

0 Lost in 8 in all competitions (9 if you count the Community Shield) – At times United look as if they’re struggling with their oh-so-familiar early season form. But really, how bad are things? As occurrences on the pitch could easily be better, United are undefeated in all competitions this season. A few mental lapses avoided and United could easily be top of the league. While rivals Chelsea have now lost two in a row and with Arsenal dropping their first home match since January, United remain unbeaten while only 3 points behind the leaders. Maybe not Premier League favorites just yet, but until someone figures out how to beat them, they’ll remain not far from the top.

Wayne Rooney’s dip in form may take more time to sort out. He’s obviously out of sorts. No real spark, no creativity. When was the last time Rooney was pulled in the 61st minute of a match based on his form? The off the field distractions have obviously gotten the better of the England international who’s netted once in six matches, a penalty. Rooney’s always been a form player, when he’s clicking, he’s one of the best in the world, but when he’s off his game, it usually takes him a handful of games to regain his best form. Rooney’s a long way from his form of last season, but with time and patience, he’ll recover it. Dimitar Berbatov’s fine run of games has been an early season savior for United.

It’s looking more and more like Johnny Evans isn’t a Manchester United-quality defender. For two or three weeks in a row now, and with Rio Ferdinand still struggling with fitness, Johnny Evans has been caught out in central defense which has nearly led to an opposition goal and caused United problems. While he’s progressed miles in the last few years, Evans is currently experiencing a difficult run of form as he and Nemanja Vidic attempt to settle into a central defensive partnership. Usually close to a 5 or 6 out of 10 in the loathed or loved player ratings, Evans, an athletically gifted defender, must continue to focus his energies on his concentration.

Manchester United can still win the league and silverware this year. No one imagined United would be top of the league with a 100% record heading into October. As at times good and mediocre as United has been this season, they’ll likely get better. With the impending return of Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson into the first team soon, United will have more cover for the aging Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs – two players who were largely ineffective Sunday v Bolton. A completed product United have yet to become.

Nani is coming good this season and will continue to improve, impress. Nani scored a brilliant goal to bring United level in the first half when he picked up the ball at the halfway line, got the better of four Bolton defenders, and slotted home past Jussi Jaaskelainen. His continued improvement in form over the last few years hasn’t placed him in the realm of the one he replaced, but has at least showed immense improvement and growing potential. Nani is proving he’s becoming a very good attacking player and that he can be counted on. He’s contributed with goals, assists, and has even shown his abilities to track back and defend (see under his defensive performance v Leighton Baines v Everton).

Some will say it was two huge points dropped away to Bolton on Sunday while I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But the point earned when those in front of United gained 0 could end up counting for a lot.

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  1. Schedule

    October 30, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Maybe you should make changes to the page name title 5 Things We Learned About Manchester United During Gameweek 6 | EPL Talk to more specific for your blog post you write. I loved the post however.

  2. John

    September 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Great article. thanks.

    I agree on all points, except Nani. Besides his goal, he didn’t get one corner kick in the air yesterday — all of them came in flat and hit a bolton defender first. While he is a great talent, he needs to practice being a winger and crosser. Giggs almost always gets the cross right in the sweet spot — he should give Nani a few pointers.

  3. farlieonfootie

    September 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

    True United fans remember that Rooney’s form has always gone in and out througout his time with the club. Last season it seemed stuck on in, however, which gave people the impression that he could be relied upon to score every game. Not the case. Rooney will find his form soon enough, but the Red Devils need to hope that Berba and Nani continue to play the way they have begun the season, and that Rio Ferdinand can return for more than a game or two at a time. Evans needs to go back for some remedial classes in defending — perhaps Wes Brown is a better choice at the moment (this would have been a laughable assertion last season, but based on current form maybe Fergie should try pairing Brown with Vida). Thoughts?

  4. Troy

    September 27, 2010 at 2:29 am

    I really agree with the point on Evans. After his mishaps in the Fulham and Everton matches, it still amazes me to see him in the starting XI (I guess Smalling not ready?). Yet again, he was supposed to be marking someone in the middle (Knight) and he was able to get a flick in. I can understand if the 6’6″ guy got a header on, but a flick to the inside? (P.S. Evra should have been on that post as well.)

    I think that also Evra has been quite up and down this season (see: failed bike clearance that leads to goal). And even against Bolton he made some weird decisions at the back. For someone that is supposed to be one of the top left backs in the world, he certainly doesn’t look consistent right now.

    I’m going to agree to disagree on the Nani point. Yes, he has gotten much better, and prior to a sending off last season (against AV I believe) he was in exceptional form (especially at the Emirates). But while he has contributed immensely during Rooney’s lack of form, he makes some fucked up decisions when delivering the ball sometimes (ok, a lot of the time). He’s an incredible talent and I would say he’s the poor man’s Ronaldo, except I don’t think he really has that vision yet (however, he definitely has the diving down).

    I would really like to see a little more of Darron Gibson when the team is struggling for a late winner. While the Owen sub couldn’t have worked out any better, Gibson provides a nice long threat ability and will open up the offense by attracting defenders far outside of the box.

  5. Gazza In The Azores

    September 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    “With the impending return of Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson into the first team soon…”

    lol. Owen Hargreaves. Impending return. lol

  6. Jesse

    September 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    I’m not the Jesse who wrote this piece. Just wanted to clarify in case he gets hate mail. I’m sure you’ve guessed that it is Liverpool fans who affectionately refer to Manchester United fans as Manure.

    • Alex

      September 26, 2010 at 7:04 pm

      So, you’re the better Jesse? 😉

  7. Jesse

    September 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Correct. It’s ManUre 🙂

  8. Juan

    September 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Man U never does anything wrong in this blog

    • MNUfan1991

      September 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm

      Because Manchester United can do no wrong

    • Alex

      September 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm

      If Liverpool had drawn 2-2 at Bolton…

    • Sarthak Patel

      September 26, 2010 at 6:26 pm

      IT IS NOT MAN U.

  9. sara

    September 26, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    man utd is still the best club in the world dont mater what people can say

    • Guy

      September 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      Glory Hunter

  10. SeoLucifer

    September 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    What hurts is that Man United probably should have won the games against Fulham and Everton.(Excluding this game cuz Bolton was good) They were in the lead yet threw it away at the closing stages.

    And those games that we drew, there was a common point imo. Evans. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has realized he almost always struggles against tough,strong,physical players.

    I maintain that he is still a great defender. If he isnt/wasnt, he would have been shipped out seasons ago. Most of his aspects of his game are good, esp his passing. But the one thing is his physicality. Work on that and I’m sure he’ll be a top defender.

    With that said, I hope Rooney finds his form once again (need not be his best but at least start to play like a United player again). And may Nani stay clear of injuries.

    Lastly, barring one shot, can someone please tell me where was Berbatov today?

  11. Sacto Blues

    September 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    United has already dropped 6 points ( = 2 losses ) so how relevant is the first point ?

  12. Sarthak Patel

    September 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Well good points, but rooney was pulled out cuz of his ankle injury and also to make sure he starts against Villareal this wednesday!

    • Peter

      September 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      Rooney was pulled out of form & they are playing Valencia on Wednesday. Shows how much you glory chasers know!

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