Written By : Bhavdeep Singh
Manchester United met Everton at Wembley for one of the most interesting semi finals of the FA cup, after taking an early lead, Manchester United’s hopes for reaching the final were at an all time high but the second half seemed to change things as Everton put their foot on the gas, David De Gea saved a penalty but Chris Smalling was responsible for an own goal. It was 1-1 at 90 minutes and both managers felt that the match would carry on to Extra Time if not to penalties, (like it did the last time they met) but then came the moment of magic as Manchester United’s Anthony Martial struck for goal in the iconic Fergie Time to seal their 5th consecutive win.
Manchester United were at the top of their game during the first half, making quick attacks, passing the ball around well and having that thirst for an early goal that several fans wanted to see, the second half, however, wasn’t all that good for them as they crumbled under the pressure (credit given to Everton as well to just turn the tables on them) and returned to the old, boring, philosophical play, they picked up the pace during the final 10 minutes of the game which led to the late goal by Martial
The players performed well again, David De Gea did not have much to do in the first half and in the second as well, but he did more than his part by saving that penalty and a Ross Barkley free kick after that. Chris Smalling wasn’t responsible for the own goal, he did what Rojo should’ve done but it ended up behind the net, other than that, he had a good game. Daley Blind was in top form as he was constantly moving up and down the field and made some important tackles to keep the 1-0 lead. Tim Fosu Mensah started as well but seemed to have a bad day as he gave away a penalty after a controversial tackle and was outclassed by Romelu Lukaku on several occasions. Last in the defensive lineup was Marcos Rojo who played fairly well, but unlike Fellaini, hasn’t gained the confidence of the fans yet.
Michael Carrick was again, fine, not too good, not too bad, he seems to have come of age when it comes to defending and clearing the ball wherein he still makes several mistakes, the attacking and passing however, was great from him, hopefully he does find a little help defensively or he would not be able to compete against the all time favourite Schmidfield. Marouanne Fellaini was perhaps the best player on the pitch for Manchester United, the guy was glowing, he understood the situation well, headed the ball well, made very few mistakes, if any and finally, scored an opening goal against his former club, not the best of finishes but it ended up in the right place and that’s what matters, he was close to scoring another but Phil Jagielka’s hand stopped the ball, no penalty was given.
Man in the middle, Wayne Rooney seems to have booked a place in the Euro squad as he continued his top form by making several great passes and setting up the attack pretty well. Anthony Martial was the man who did it all, after assisting Fellaini for the opener and coming really close to scoring one, I did seem to have a positive outlook of him and that just boosted when he scored the late winner, just a magnificent performance overall, way better than the last one, still room for improvement but he can conquer it all. The other man on the wing was Jesse Lingard, another controversial character, he was a spark of creativity and was lively throughout, but all that went down the drain as he could not finish, and this has been carrying on for quite some time now. Therefore, starting him above Memphis seems to have no logic for me but only the future and Louis Van Gaal shall tell us what happens of this.
Finally, Marcus Rashford, the boy wonder, he had a decent game, could’ve scored on a few occasions and did seem to pair up with the rest of the players well, particularly Martial, their partnership could go a long way provided they stay a few years.
Everton on the other hand, had an entirely different story, interim goalkeeper Joel Robles did not impress as much, nothing important other than positioning the passes well and covering the near post. The defence was sloppy for the first half and the final 10 minutes of the game, Andy Townsend says that the team is weakest when they score, Manchester United knew that well and came very close to scoring a second goal as soon as the game resumed, John Stones played fair, made a ton of mistakes but interceptions were good. Jagielka seemed fine as well, except when his hand stopped an attempt by Fellaini and no penalty was given, not his fault entirely but not a good move, had the ref seen that, he would’ve been in trouble.
Besic was the best defender for them, he cleared the ball well, moved around nicely but, left alone, he wasn’t able to do a lot, I’d say that’s probably the reason the second goal was scored, he tried and failed and the rest of the defence was left in shambles as it is. Baines needs to get his head in the game, he needs to get what he has to do, by moving forward according to Martinez’s game plan, he does leave the wing vulnerable, which can be harmful, he needs to put his foot down once and for all, that said, he didn’t have a bad game, he could’ve had a better one.
James McCarthy and Darron Gibson were invisible during the game, made a few passes but they seemed to be chilling with the defence most of the time, at least in the first half, again, in the second they moved forward, probably got a little scolding by Martinez for it and it was too late when Mirallas was subbed on for Gibson. Aaron Lennon did not seem to have a huge impact on the game, it wasn’t a wonder when he was subbed off for Gerard Deulofeu, who by the way, was great during his time on the field, and probably the reason they scored 5 minutes after he came on.
Ross Barkley seemed the have the biggest impact on the game, moving around well and getting the ball to Lukaku was his prime objective and he did that well, along with a great free kick which didn’t go in, but then again, he was up against David De Gea, so good game for the man, could’ve done slightly better for me, but might be able to do that. Alongside him was Tom Cleverly, who, probably in the fond memory of his old club, played exactly like he played there, bad. Well, okay, not all that bad, but there’s room for improvement and a lot of it.
Finally, we have the man everyone fears, Romelu Lukaku, well there was a reason they feared him, he got close to scoring very early in the game but thanks to Rooney’s head that didn’t happen, then there came a lot of chances, he took all, but nothing went in. To be very frank, his penalty wasn’t all that good as well, of course, De Gea’s reaction was impeccable, but then again, he had room to react and that’s not all that good, so Martinez needs to work on that.
Martinez needs to get his stuff straight, he doesn’t seem to draw a lot of attention with a playing style simillar to that of Van Gaal, had no problem on goals thanks to the in form Lukaku but now that the form is gone, he needs to do something if he wishes to stay as manager.
Van Gaal’s Manchester United seem to have no problem against the relatively smaller sides for the past week, can they conquer the top 4 and win the FA Cup as well?
United face Crystal Palace at Wembley on the 21st of May for the final of the FA Cup.