NEWCASTLE UNITED vs MANCHESTER UNITED
04.03.2015

United travelled to Newcastle for a midweek fixture aiming to retain their place in the top four with an away win.

PERSONNEL

In: Fellaini.
Out: Falcao.

KEYPOINTS

  • United’s 4-1-4-1 saw much of the play come down the right hand side mostly through Valencia.
  • Young had a fantastic game as a wide man, both he and Di Maria (until the substitution) maintained width, similar to in the game against Sunderland.
  • There were a number of times when United broke down Newcastle’s attacking but failed to break quickly enough to take advantage of the space.
  • Newcastle allowed United to come forward with the ball to the halfway line.
  • Rooney often seemed alone in his endeavours to attack as Fellaini could be seen dropping very deep; creativity was and is sorely missing in this team!
  • Rooney was fundamental to United snatching this victory as he was the one who pressed Newcastle’s defence and harried Krul into the rushed kick.
  • Van Gaal kept the same team, including the defence, apart from Fellaini for Falcao.
  • An insipid game was punctuated by a classic United goal in the dying embers of the game.

FIRST HALF

The game started with a relatively fast tempo from both teams and was littered with a number of individual errors, one main one leading to a good save from De Gea. However, you felt that United weren’t concerned with the threat from Cisse and former strike partner of Falcao at Monaco, Riviere.

Space was available but never utilized in the first half

Space was available but never utilized in the first half

There were a number of times when United worked the ball down the right hand side and fashioned space through neat combinations. This was when Valencia worked the ball to a certain point, Di Maria then received a pass and Herrera came from a deep position. As we can see in the image above Di Maria makes the wrong choice instead opting for the cross to Fellaini at the back post; we saw a lot of this in the first half.

United enjoyed more success with their possession the down the right hand side although overall they had more of their play on the left. United’s success down the right was helped by the narrow positioning of the fullback Taylor.

United Heat Map

United Heat Map

Rooney was struggling to make an impact in this half, industrious as ever but often isolated as strike partner Fellaini dropped deep.

SECOND HALF

Newcastle maintained their 4-4-2 which went to a 4-5-1 when defending with Riviere, of the front two, the one that dropped. Bringing the ball forward was Blind, Smalling or Evans and like in many other matches Newcastle was happy to let them do this.

A big decision came on the 59th minute when Di Maria was hauled off for Januzaj. The Argentinean didn’t look happy but what this did was to introduce a greater inclination to take the ball down the line rather than cutting in. This meant Herrera had more space in the channel inside to attack.

Rooney’s play looked a lot better in this half although he was less involved than in the first; resisting the urge to drop deeper he was playing on the shoulder of the defender, wrongly caught offside on at least one of these occasions.

Rooney Heat Map

Rooney Heat Map

By 81 minutes it looked like either team were unable to change things and make an impact. Yet never afraid to do so, regardless of timings, Van Gaal brought on Mata for Fellaini. The Belgian had had a good game but more craft was needed to break down Newcastle’s solid two banks of four; too little too late but nonetheless worth a punt?

LINE UP AFTER DI MARIA SUB                michael-carrick-manchester-united

 United shape after Di Maria’s substitution

Then Carrick came on for Rojo and the all of a sudden BOOM! Atoning for his miss earlier in the half Young stabbed home a snatch of a goal which was borne from an increased tempo. Januzaj started it with a quick throw in which saw Guiterrez out of position and Newcastle’s defenders bunching and dithering. Rooney pressed and harried the defenders forcing them into a mistake, a back pass to Krul who hurried his clearance straight to Young.

Then De Gea showed equal class with a great save to keep it 1-0 to United.

Great save by De Gea

Great save by De Gea

CONCLUSION

This was an unspectacular game which United won with a late old school goal from Young.

PASSING COMBINATIONS 4571024

United pass combinations

The width worked well but there was not enough presence in the box to make it worthwhile even though there was the odd header from Fellaini. The Belgian would have been better served keeping closer to Rooney to have had a greater impact.

De Gea made a number of standout saves  which Van Gaal commented on, “They also made two big chances and I think David de Gea rescued us at that time.” he was right!

The avoidance of an eighth draw on the road was a relief although Van Gaal’s comment that, “I think we have dominated for 90 minutes, maybe our best match of the season” was stretching it a bit far but it feels good whatever the performance and with tough games coming up you feel that this team may raise their game against their main opposition for a top four place.