Manchester United kicked off their first home game of the season with a hard earned 3-2 win over Fulham in rainy weather. It seemed like Rooney and Nani both paid the price for their poor performance against Everton on Monday night with Rooney starting on the bench and Nani not even featuring at all.
Young replace Welbeck on the left wing and with Valencia pushed upfront and was relieved of his right back duties by Rafael, United’s defence had a more assured look. Van Persie started as United’s lone striker and Kagawa slotted in a deeper role just behind the Dutchman.
There was a sense of urgency to the start of the game with United wanting to atone for the loss at Goodison Park but it was Damien Duff who silenced the Old Trafford faithfuls by slotting in a well worked goal in the 2nd minute of the game. United did not falter and in the 9th minute, Evra swung in a cross and van Persie flick ball across Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with his left foot and the ball nestled at the back of the net for van Persie’s first goal on his home debut.
United’s equalizer and first goal of the season was the perfect boost that they needed and soon after, Kagawa, another new summer signing, tapped in his first goal for United after Schwarzer pushed Cleverly’s fierce drive into the path of the Japanese star.
Rafael almost made it three for United just before half time when he was clever put through by Valencia only to have this goal ruled offside by the linesmen. The decision did not put of the Brazilian right back though because a couple of minutes later, he was on hand to hand in United’s third goal at the far post from an Ashley Young’s cross. United went into the break looking comfortable and there were signs that service was back to normal at Old Trafford.
Both teams came out for the second half with their line ups unchanged and United had some nerve-y moments when Dembele tried to boss the midfield and Fulham managed to pull a goal back. Briggs sent in a harmless looking cross but Vidic and De Gea got in each other’s way and the ball somehow managed to trickle into goal off the Serbian’s heel for an own goal.
United managed to hang on for the last 30 minutes for the win but it was marred by a nasty looking injured for Rooney for a gash on his thigh after Rodallega landed his studs on the England striker. Rooney is expected to be out for 4 weeks and it seems like van Persie would be leading United’s attack for the coming month alone.
David De Gea
It wasn’t De Gea’s fault when Fulham scored in the second minute and he was on hand to deny Fulham two good chances (one which he flicked onto the crossbar with his foot) in the first half. Probably should assert himself more when collecting crosses because his casual leap in the second half lead to a confusion with Vidic resulting in the Serbian scoring and own goal. Did well to deny Brian Luiz in the final minute to deny Fulham a point.
First start of the season and impressed with his attacking prowess. Had a goal ruled correct offside before scoring a wonderful header which ultimately won United the match. Could probably improve on his defensive skills because he was constantly out muscled and and ran against the faster and bigger Fulham wingers.
Still trying to find his way around the United backline but is doing a good job partnering Carrick in defence. Shouldn’t be blamed for Fulham’s second goal but did seem like communication with his goalkeeper needs to improve after that blunder.
Continues to be deployed at the back because of United’s defensive injuries and is doing a good enough job with no fuss. Could tell that he wants to roam upfront to the middle of the park but is shackled by his defensive duties. Spreads the ball well and needs to be playing in midfield to realize his full potential.
Didn’t have much to do defensively because Fulham attacked down United’s right flank pretty much the whole game which left Evra with alot of space and time to venture upfront and support Ashley Young. Provide the scintillating cross for van Persie to finish beautifully.
Linked up well with Kagawa and the wingers and was the pivotal point from United’s defence to attack. His powerful drive lead to Kagawa’s goal and was looking like he could partner well with Carrick when he comes back into midfield.
The weak link for me in United’s midfield last night. Anderson was holding up play and giving it away when passing the ball sooner would have been a better option. Defensively didn’t provide much cover and when Ryan Giggs did more tackling when he came on was a telling sign that Anderson need to improve his game.
Seems like he lacked confidence after a lacklustre Euros and wasn’t providing enough crosses as I would have life. Played alot of safe passes to Evra instead and left the crossing to him. Had a couple of wayward shots and when he did tried and cross the ball in, he provided an assist for Rafael. Definitely need more games to improve but did well enough to be ahead of Nani in the pecking order.
Was a constant threat to Fulham’s backline with his crossing and linked up well with Rafael to terrorize Briggs. Played in his preferred right wing position this week and looked more comfortable than when deployed in the right back position. He even flashed a shot wide in the first half. Easily United’s most consistent and dangerous player last night.
Scored his first Barclays Premier League goal after tapping in Cleverly’s rebounded shot. Had a chance to score his second goal but hit the post. The Japanese star looks to be coming out of his shell slowly but it still pretty safe with his passes, always making himself available to passes. Got over ran a couple of times by the strong Dembele but is starting to attempt more shots which is good to see.
Robin van Persie
Had one shot on goal and scored with a sublime flick of the ball with his deadly left foot. Showed the world by Alex Ferguson paid so much for a 29 year old. Needs to be starting games in order to feel the effort of what he can do.
Danny Welbeck for Ashley Young
Wayne Rooney for Shinji Kagawa
Ryan Giggs for Anderson