Manchester United recovered well from their loss to Swansea City last week as Wayne Rooney scored a brace to settle the nerves at Old Trafford. Manchester United dominated the entire game against Sunderland and put forward a convincing display as the Red Devils prepare for a gruelling challenge to finish in the top 4 in the English Premier League. Here are some talking points from the game.
Angel Di Maria-Down And Out
Brought from Real Madrid for a colossal fee, Angel Di Maria was expected to galvanise an unimaginative Manchester United and lead the teama s attack under Louis Van Gaal. And though the Argentine has shone brightly in a few appearances this season, an injury plagued start to his career at Old Trafford has affected his form. He was indifferent against Sunderland and failed to make an impact. So much so that manager Louis Van Gaal was forced to make a substitution and bring on Adnan Januzaj half-way through the game.
The Dutchman justified his decision by commenting that Angel Di Maria was not ready for the English Premier League and would take time to adjust to the pace of the game in England.
a When a player isna t in a game, I have to make a change. Ia m the manager and I cana t deny what I see on the pitch. We were better in the second half, so I cannot say it was the wrong decision.a
a We have to give Angel more time to adapt to the Premier League; ita s not so easy with the high tempo. I want to give him time, ita s also not easy to change a player of his quality, but I have to make these decisions.a
To be fair, Van Gaal was justified in taking Angel Di Maria off as Januzaj had an immediate impact in the game. With the youngster challenging for a starting position in the team, along with the likes of Juan Mata and Fellaini sitting on the bench, Angel Di Maria will be aware that he needs to deliver if he is to play under the Dutchman at Manchester United. It will be interesting to see how Angel Di Maria recovers from this snub. The Argentine has already shown moments of brilliance in his debut season at Old Trafford and is expected to make a return sooner than later. But with just 11 games left in the season, will it be too late for Manchester United by then?
Wayne Rooney-Captain To The Rescue?
Robin Van Persiea s injury seems to have unleashed the best in Wayne Rooney. Having been relegated to playing in the midfield, Rooney seems to be relishing the opportunity to play in an attacking position in the last few games. Louis Van Gaal had earlier complained that he doesn’t have a 20 goal-a-season striker in the team and it seems that the Manchester United captain has stepped up to prove his manager wrong. A natural predator in the box, Wayne Rooney has been relatively shackled in his midfield role this season and the club has missed his imposing presence in the attack. But with Robin Van Persie missing, Rooney partnered Radamel Falcao up front and scored twice in the second half to give Manchester United three deserved points against Sunderland. While the first goal came off a penalty earned deftly by Radamel Falcao, the second was the result of a true poaching instinct as Wayne Rooney tapped in a rebound to secure the game for Manchester United.
The End of the 3-5-2?
Manchester United seem to have shifted away from a 3-5-2 line-up after a series of unconvincing performances as Van Gaal lined up an attack-minded team against Sunderland. Ander Herrera partnered Wayne Rooney and Daley Blind in the midfield while Angel Di Maria and Ashley Young played on the wings. While the 3-5-2 formation did offer Manchester United breathing room at the back, especially considering their list of injured players in the first half of the season, the defensive formation robbed the Red Devils of any real attacking intent. However it seems that Louis Van Gaal has more faith in his defenders now and has shifted to a four man defence, allowing the likes of Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao to flourish in the attack of late. But with a series of big fixtures lined up for Manchester United, will the Dutchman revert to his trusted 3-5-2 formation? We will soon find out.