BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United at Ewood Park on April 2, 2012 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Manchester United moved 5 points clear of Manchester City, after an unconvincing 0-2 win against Blackburn Rovers, which seen Antonio Valencia grab a goal and an assist in what was his 100th appearance for the Red Devils. It was a much needed win, the perfect opportunity to capitalise on City’s poor performance against Sunderland, which seen them draw 3-3, at the Etihad.
Now that there is a 5 point advantage over City, there is room for complacency. However, this does enable United to some breathing space, knowing that if they do slip up in these last games, they can rely on a two/three point cushion, depending on whether they draw or lose.
David de Gea produced another flawless performance. The Spaniard showcased how fine his reflexes are, making three great saves in the first half, two of which were made in the final stages when Blackburn had more of the momentum and looked like scoring. The first came in the 17th minute – Junior Hoilett was allowed to run in United’s half and take a curling shot, but de Gea spectacularly stopped with a one-hand save. In the 45th minute, Marcus Olsson hit a left-shoot which was heading into the top corner, and de Gea turned it from heading into the net, with another glorious save. The last was to deny Grant Hanley’s header, the last action of the first half.
Javier Hernández struggled as United’s lone striker. Hernandez was limited to just once clear chance on goal, but was unlucky that his header went off the post, in the first half. It was not fully his fault, though, as the service he received was not the best. Also, Wayne Rooney was not playing in his favoured false number 9 role, which is another explanation for the Mexican’s anonymous display. There is no doubt that he has found life difficult in his second season with the United, but he can make the game much easier for himself if he brushes up on essential attributes, such as first touch and hold up play. In essence, there has been a major improvement, since the start of the season.
For the majority of the game, United had much of the possession, but there was little penetration through the left wing and through the middle. It was another classic United performance, as they left the fans nervy.
Things changed, however, on 81 minutes, Valencia cut inside from the right win and his thunderous shot left Paul Robinson confused. Not too often we see Valencia smile after scoring, but the celebration conveys how much this title means to him and to the team. Ashley Young, who came on for Paul Scholes, sealed the game for United on 86 minutes, when he was allowed to turn outside the Blackburn box, and produce a precise shot which found its way to the inside of the left post.
After being written off time-and-time again, the Champions have proved that experience and grinding out wins is more vital than talent in abundance and playing attractive football. Fans were not impressed with the way the team played after the 1-6 loss to City, achieving quite a few solitary goal wins and not conceding, but winning is more important than anything else.
The season is not over yet; the title decider will be at the Etihad. However, there is this general consensus floating about, that if City draw or lose against Arsenal in their upcoming match, and United win, then it is game over.