Wayne Rooney may have stolen the plaudits for his goal scoring heroics in Manchester United's 2-0 weekend victory over Sunderland, but, somewhat surprisingly, it was his midfield teammate Ashley Young who deserves the majority share of the credit.
The Englishman has turned his Old Trafford career around under the management of Louis van Gaal, and his impressive form continued as the Red Devils welcomed the Black Cats to the Theatre of Dreams.
In a game of very little creativity and flair, Young proved one of few bright sparks for the Red Devils, as the Opta Stats suggest. The 29-year-old fashioned a match-best four key passes, while managing a further three attempts at goal. He was desperately unlucky not to open the scoring when John O'Shea deflected his shot-turned-cross onto the crossbar.
|Team||Touches||Total Shots||Shot Accuracy (%)||Chances Created||Total Passes||Pass Accuracy (%)||Cross Accuracy (%)||Take-on Success (%)||Mins Played|
|Ashley Young||Man Utd||62||3||33||4||33||91||43||33.33||90|
Young provided an excellent attacking presence from the left flank, and he gave the 35-year-old Anthony Réveillère the complete run around, particularly in the first period. Young completed two of four take-ons, while attempting a match best 14 crosses; six of which were accurate.
Somewhat uncharacteristically, his distribution was exceptional. Despite averaging a 82% pass accuracy throughout the current season, he completed 90.9% of his attempts to find a teammate against the Black Cats. He also weighed in admirably in a defensive capacity, winning two tackles and making two interceptions.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News at full-time, Young gave a very honest account of his afternoon:
“It would have been nice to get on the scoresheet but he (John O’Shea) made a clearance. I don’t know how he managed to hit the bar. I had a few chances and it wasn’t meant to be today but it was a great team performance and we got the three points, which was vitally important.
“As a player, you always want to start games. I'm no different to that, I want to play in every game. Fingers crossed I can stay in the starting line-up and keep putting in performances like I showed.”
It was an all round impressive display by the Englishman, who, with his consistently good form, continues to prove he is an integral figure in van Gaal's side.