Old Trafford, Att: 75,317
Manchester United: de Gea, Rafael, Rojo, Shaw, McNair, Blind, Herrera (yellow card – A. Valencia 74’), Rooney (red card), Di Maria (Thorpe 94’), van Persie, Falcao (Fletcher 65’)
West Ham United: Adrian (yellow card), Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell, Demel (Jenksinson 65’), Amalfitano (Cole 61’) Sahko (yellow card), Poyet (Nolan 75’), Downing, Song (yellow card), E. Valencia
What a game. We started poorly and Manchester United were quick to capitalise on it— but gone are the days when having early goals scored against us meant the game was over. We continued to push, and strong performances from Stewart Downing, Diafra Sahko, and Aaron Cresswell meant West Ham absolutely dominated the second half of the game. It was always going to be tough to match the performance against Liverpool whilst missing two of the key players who made that match what it was (the now-injured Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble) but the team rallied well, and once they got into their stride, it was a different game.
With the improvements to the team, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed that we didn’t capitalise on our numerical advantage after Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney was sent off, and I think we deserved a least a point from our trip up north – but boy am I proud of the football we’re starting to play.
It was the best of moments; it was the worst of moments. Yes, I’m talking about the offside decision that’s divided not only a nation of football fans, but also the West Ham faithful. Kevin Nolan’s late “equaliser” was ruled out for being offside, and whilst Kevin normally seems to live on Offside Street, a lot of people will argue he was still on.
How did the boys do?
Adrian – 6
Let in two goals, and while he made some great saves, there’s a reckless part of Adrian which is making me a wee bit nervous. Booked.
Guy Demel – 6 (Carl Jenkinson 65’)
Defended well, and brought the ball forward when he could – but Jenkinson is going to prove tough competition for his starting position.
James Tomkins – 7
Had a busy day but did well to defend, and was useful during corner kicks on both ends.
Winston Reid – 7
A strong performance from Reid; frustratingly David Gold alluded on twitter that he “probably” would have been captain had he signed a new contract – I’d have rather seen him leading the squad on this occasion. So much for not fighting fire with fire.
Aaron Cresswell – 7/8
Looked great again, gets back well, never seems to take his eye off the ball, and is brilliant at moving the ball forward.
Alex Song – 6
Okay. Okay, I’m just gonna say it. Winning Man of The Match once does not entitle you to be captain for the next game. Was beyond reckless in the opening of the game. It seemed as if Rooney and Song were competing to see who could be the worst captain; luckily, Rooney won.
Diego Poyet – 6 (Kevin Nolan 75’)
Wasn’t the most noticeable player on the pitch, but his stats sure were impressive. According to @WHU_Stats, Poyet completed 27/30 passes in his first ever Premier League start. Not bad.
Diafra Sahko – 7/8
Constantly looking to score – and also starting to constantly score – but also won himself a silly yellow card. Great goal though.
Stewart Downing – 7
I never want to see him play solely on the wing again. He looks fantastic coming up through the middle, and it feels as if we’ve signed a new player since we’ve played him in a different position.
Morgan Amalfitano – 6 (Carlton Cole 61’)
Didn’t have the same impact starting as when he came on against Liverpool, but still more impactual than his replacement.
Enner Valencia – 6
Lively and active but missed valuable chances.
Carlton Cole (on for Amalfitano 61’) – 5
I didn’t even notice he was playing. My feed must have cut when he was subbed on, but fortunately his presence was more noticeable in the last 10-15 minutes, and he had a few chances.
Carl Jenkinson (on for Demel 65’) – 7
The boy looks good – Demel wasn’t doing anything wrong— but the introduction of Jenkinson brought a well-needed spark to the second half.
Kevin Nolan – 7 (on for Poyet 75’)
Don’t get mad. Bringing him on made a difference—he had three chances in the last 10 minutes and may or may not have “scored” depending on your interpretation of the offside rule. He caused problems for the United defence.
So who came out on top for the Hammers on Saturday afternoon? It’s a tough one as we did see some darn good performances – but for me, it’s a tie between Sahko and Cresswell. Both put in strong performances, and just seem to get better and better as the season goes on.