Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 2-0 on Saturday, and here are five things we learned...
Fellaini gave glimpse of better things to come
Marouane Fellaini cost £27.5million when he signed from Everton back in September. And straight away, the pressure was on him not only to live up to that price-tag, but also to solve United’s midfield issues. No wonder he struggled prior to the injuries that robbed him of the last three months of competitive action.
But against Crystal Palace the Belgian was very impressive – even more so when you consider this was his first appearance since 4 December.
Playing practically the entire match, Fellaini did well. And gave a glimpse of what could follow if he can steer clear of injuries and the Old Trafford faithful show patience.
Money well spent
Wayne Rooney has been in the papers more for his improved wages than his ability on the pitch in recent days, but the two are interlinked, and his goal against Palace – the second strike which ended the match as a contest – was a fantastic example of what United have just secured for the next five years.
With his future no longer in doubt, and with the England striker enjoying his football once more, things are looking up for the reigning champions.
The power of a nice rest
At the start of the season, Adnan Januzaj quickly became United’s go-to man when they required a spark of creativity. But the teenager was always going to need a rest at some point, and the arrival of Juan Mata has allowed that to happen.
The Belgian returned against Palace for his first start since the beginning of last month, and he looked bright throughout.
Evra deserves a new deal, too
This will be a controversial one, as I am well aware that a section of United supporters feel the French left-back has been well below his best for some time. But I do not agree, and against Palace, Patrice Evra again showed how effective he can be going forward (winning the penalty to boot), while still carrying out his defensive duties well.
Reports this weekend have suggested United will extend Evra’s current deal, and given the fact they are unlikely to ever tempt Everton into business for Leighton Baines, and with Luke Shaw young and inexperienced, getting another year out of Evra may be the best option for now.
David de Gea has grown into an outstanding ‘keeper
The Spaniard may not have had too much to do at Selhurst Park, but what he did, he did very well. However, it was his demeanour at set-pieces that really stood out.
Long-gone is the nervous young man throwing his hands up at every slight challenge prior to corners and free-kicks. Against Palace he looked up for the fight. He even appeared to be enjoying the hustle and bustle in the penalty area.
Moyes needs to secure him on a new long-term deal as soon as possible. He really could become every bit as important as Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar before him.
image: © joncandy