Manchester United vs. Fulham: Rating the Reds Players at Old Trafford
Damien Duff opened the scoring for the Cottagers before Robin van Persie scored sensationally on his home debut, while Shinji Kagawa added a goal also on his Old Trafford unveiling to give United a 2-1 lead.
Rafael made it 3-1 prior to half-time, but United wobbled in the second-half thanks to a defensive mix-up between David De Gea and Nemanja Vidic which gave Fulham a lifeline.
The Red Devils held on, however, looking good in attack but poor in defence. Here are the player ratings for the home side.
GK: David de Gea
David de Gea made some good saves against Fulham, including a save at the death to deny Bryan Ruiz a dramatic equaliser, while his kicking was mostly accurate.
However, it was his failure to clear a Ruiz cross—which should be a routine move for any professional goalkeeper—which resulted in the visitors' second goal.
And considering he didn't have much to do otherwise, the fact de Gea messed up the things he did have to deal with shows he still has some way to go before being a top Premier League goalkeeper.
Key Stat: David de Gea had just 21 touches of the ball, over 100 percent fewer than any other player who started the game.
RB: Rafael Da Silva
Rafael was great in attack for Manchester United, scoring one and almost grabbing another with a powerful effort from long-range.
He also put in some decent crosses, drove the ball forward well on the flank and linked up effortlessly with Antonio Valencia on that right wing.
However, he was caught out of position defensively one too many times, and despite winning six tackles, needs to improve his positional discipline in future matches.
Key Stat: Rafael, with 106 touches, had the ball more than any other on the pitch.
CB: Michael Carrick
Thanks to Manchester United's continuing defensive crisis, Michael Carrick again had to step in at centre-back.
He performed better than his partner Nemanja Vidic, which is quite something considering Vidic is viewed as one of the sport's best central defenders.
However, Vidic was terrible, and Carrick was only marginally better, with his ability to pass the ball out accurately from the back and his willingness to put his body on the line the only notable things he did.
Key Stat: Michael Carrick blocked three shots, more than any other player on the pitch.
CB: Nemanja Vidic
Nemanja Vidic put in a totally un-Vidic-like performance against Fulham.
He was poor in the air, he was often caught napping at the back and his understanding with his goalkeeper and centre-back partner seemed non-existent.
If anything, though, the 90 minutes will have done him well in his return from injury.
Key Stat: In this 3-2 win, Nemanja Vidic won just one aerial duel. In the 1-0 defeat to Everton, he won six.
LB: Patrice Evra
With highly-rated full-back Alexander Buttner recently drafted in, Patrice Evra knew he had to up his game from last season if he wasn't to be resigned to the Manchester United abyss by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Considering his performance against Fulham, some word of warning has clearly resonated with Evra, who was impressive in both defence and attack.
He laid the ball off for van Persie's sensational equaliser, put in five good crosses, also created another goalscoring chance and generally linked up smoothly with Ashley Young and the central players.
While in defence he did everything—he won tackles, made interceptions, cleared the ball effectively and blocked shots.
If he can keep that up this season, new signing Buttner will have to wait quite a while for his chance.
Key Stat: Evra had a 100 percent efficiency rate with his clearances. No other Manchester United player did.
RM: Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia failed to find the net or claim an assist, and perhaps he should have given the space he had and made for himself in and around Fulham's penalty area.
Nonetheless, the former Wigan Athletic winger had a good game, whacking in a ton of crosses and providing a big attacking threat from the right for the whole 90+ minutes.
He also tracked back well, winning two tackles.
Key Stat: Antonio Valencia put a whopping 14 crosses into the box. Only two of them found a Manchester United player, however.
Many of the Old Trafford faithful had their doubts about Anderson, but he did himself justice with a good performance against Fulham.
The Brazilian midfielder dictated play well in the centre, spreading the ball around like butter.
His passing was very accurate and he rarely gave away possession, while he also tracked back well and won a number of good tackles.
Overall a very solid showing from Anderson, and if he can keep up such form throughout the campaign, he could finally be about to realise his potential.
Key Stat: Anderson hit 11 long balls, all of them accurate. Paul Scholes hit on average 10 accurate long balls per game last season.
CM: Tom Cleverley
The key to success in football always relies on having a strong core to the team, and Manchester United could have exactly that if Tom Cleverley continues to perform the way he currently is.
Cleverley was another good passer of the ball against Fulham, hitting more accurate passes than any other player on the pitch.
While going forward he linked up well with Shinji Kagawa, Robin Van Persie and the wide-men, and created some good goalscoring chances himself.
Defensively he was also fairly decent, winning four tackles, making an interception and blocking a shot.
Key Stat: Tom Cleverley hit more successful attacking third passes than any other player, spraying the ball around successfully 29 times deep in Fulham's half.
LM: Ashley Young
Ashley Young put in a very good cross for Rafael's goal, but that aside did nothing of note in the game against Fulham.
Defensively he contributed absolutely nothing, while going forward he put in a few half-decent crosses.
That aside his decision-making was poor, and while he wasn't a liability to his team, he wasn't a great help either.
Key Stat: Ashley Young was one of only four players on the pitch not to make a single tackle, interception or clearance.
SS: Shinji Kagawa
Shinji Kagawa scored, he hit the post, he pulled the strings in between the opposition's defensive and midfield lines and was an all-round threat against Fulham.
His ability to find great pockets of space deep in the final third and stretch the away side's defence was second to none, while his movement on and off the ball made him a man-marker's nightmare.
He would've had a higher rating had he hit one or two more clinical, chance-creating passes, but nonetheless the Japan international was very impressive.
Key Stat: With two shots on-target, Shinji Kagawa hit the most amount of accurate shots along with right-back Rafael, who also had two shots on target.
ST: Robin Van Persie
Robin van Persie got his debut to the Old Trafford faithful off to a flying start, scoring a great goal after just 10 minutes.
However, that was his only shot throughout the game, as through one thing or another he failed to get on the end of any cross or pass into his direction, meaning his rating here suffers.
The Flying Dutchman did create three goalscoring chances for teammates, and could've had a hat-trick of assists if his teammates could finish like he did.
Key Stat: Robin van Persie was the only player on the pitch to create a one-on-one goalscoring chance for a teammate.
Rooney couldn't really get into the game, and despite having some good opportunities on goal himself, he failed to provide a significant threat for the Red Devils.
Welbeck was even less of a threat than Wayne Rooney after being introduced on 68 minutes. He had no shots on goal, and his only contribution was to create one half-decent chance for a teammate.
Giggs only played just over 10 minutes, but still had time to defend well and create play going forward.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored?com
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