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Manchester United 3 Everton 0

November 23, 2009
Manchester United 3 Everton 0
Old Trafford
21st November 2009
Fletcher 35, Carrick 67, Valencia 76

Fletcher strikes the opener in United's comfortable win over Everton -

Once a derided young player marooned on the right wing, Darren Fletcher is now undoubtedly Manchester United‘s most important midfielder.
“I love challenging myself against all the best players and a lot of them play in the Premier League,” he said in an interview with fanzine United We Stand this month. “I watch how good they are but, when we play them, I think to myself: “Right, I’m going to see how good you really are. Fabregas, Lampard, and Gerrard. I’m going to get about you and see how you like it.”
Though always regarded by United fans as a player for the big games – a reputation started with his 2004 performance at Villa Park in the FA Cup semi final v Arsenal – he suffered initially from unflattering comparisons with the developing Cristiano Ronaldo. Once he was moved into the middle his quality soon became apparent.
Fletcher can play the midfield destroyer role – a quality that so frustrated Arsene Wenger when the sides met in August. In so-called lesser games, he consistently provides a combination of thrusting attack and simple, intelligent passing. Yesterday’s performance at Old Trafford was typically energetic and an injury-stricken Everton, like so many other sides, couldn’t cope.
United looked confident from the off: the increasingly impressive Antonio Valencia probed down the right and was well-contained by Leighton Baines for much of the first half. Carrick, Fletcher, Rooney and Owen probed through the middle but created few chances whilst United rarely looked threatened. The breakthrough, though, seemed likely, and once Fletcher lashed an acrobatic strike from the edge of the box past Tim Howard United looked comfortable.
Louis Saha, deservedly applauded off the field in the second half, was isolated up front as United’s makeshift back four repelled most of Everton‘s advances. The visitors were neat and combative, aided by the half-time introduction of Yakubu. His shot on the turn was well-executed, and it was only when Michael Carrick calmly slotted home a Ryan Giggs cross that the result was put beyond doubt.
Everton threw men forward in response and United should have had more on the counter-attack after Antonio Valencia’s deflected drive made it 3-0. Gabriel Obertan, on for Rooney, looked lively and his introduction, along with that of Paul Scholes and Darron Gibson necessitated a reorganisation: Giggs moved forward to partner Owen and Fletcher played the final twenty minutes at right-back.
Chelsea look ominous, routinely destroying sides that comes to Stamford Bridge; only Hull and United have offered any resistance there this season. Arsenal will count yesterday’s defeat to Sunderland as a blip. United do not look as impressive as either London outfit – this is the first time they have scored three in the league since they travelled to White Hart Lane in September.
 Unusually nervy home performances against Bolton and Blackburn did little to suggest they have recovered from the loss of Ronaldo, but yesterday was a solid, professional performance, not least from Fletcher, whose attitude when struggling to break into an accomplished side not so long ago might be considered by the marginalised Nani, absent from the squad again after his petulant comments to a Portuguese journalist found their way into the British media.
And what of Fletcher’s aims for the season? “To win the league, have a good long cup run and reach the Champions League final.” Performances like yesterday’s will go some way towards achieving that goal.
Darren Fletcher quotes taken from an interview with Manchester United fanzine United We


One Comment leave one →
  1. Phil Jones permalink
    November 23, 2009 7:49 pm

    Great shot by Fletcher but why did Fellaini leave him unmarked after tracking him back to near the penalty area when there was no-one to take over from him?

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