Manchester United won 3-0 at The Hawthorns on Saturday, to climb up one place to sixth in the Premier League table.
It was a much-needed victory after their recent woes in Europe; something they will be hoping to put right next week. But what did the match tell us about United and their players?
Here are four key observations from Saturday’s match:
Okay, so it might be a slight over-exaggeration to suggest that United will not miss the imposing centre-back when he jets out to Italy at the end of the current campaign. But in Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, David Moyes has two young defenders who are capable of filling the void.
Against West Bromwich Albion, the pair were very impressive, with Jones in particular excelling, netting the opening goal for good measure. I expect Moyes to dip into the transfer market for a new (more experienced) central defender than the likes of Jones, Smalling and Jonny Evans, but the former two shone on Saturday, and all three will play a huge part in United’s future.
£27.5million starting to look like money well spent
Given the time between United’s last Premier League match against Crystal Palace and their visit to The Hawthorns, it would be easy to forget the impact of Marouane Fellaini against the Eagles. But he replicated that on Saturday, breaking up the play, getting forward and looking every inch the midfielder Moyes knew from his days at Goodison Park.
It is no coincidence that United have won their last two league matches (both away from home) without conceding a goal when Fellaini has been in the side. And they need to play him in Europe next week if they want to have any chance of overturning a 2-0 deficit against Olympiakos.
Van Persie’s frustrations continue
Usually Robin van Persie makes headlines for scoring goals, but against West Brom he could easily have made plenty for being sent off. His second challenge may have seen him get the ball – just – but he was lucky not to be punished so soon after collecting a booking. It was the rashness of the second challenge that really should have been prevented.
While his strike partner Wayne Rooney netted and set up a goal, the Dutchman failed to get on the score-sheet and looked out of sorts. It is also fair to say that Moyes’ side looked far quicker on the counter when van Persie was replaced by Danny Welbeck. Speaking of which…
The boy can finish
Welbeck has always had a classy goal or two in him. When he first burst on to the scene at Old Trafford he scored some delightful strikes including one against Derby County that belied his age and inexperience.
On Saturday, Welbeck ran on to a delightful Rooney through-ball and finished deftly past former United ‘keeper Ben Foster.
It was a goal van Persie would have been proud of, but one that he was forced to watch from the bench having been replaced by the England international.
image: © vagueonthehow