Manchester United faced Stoke City at Old Trafford, in their first game after the international break on Saturday. It was an especially important game for the Manchester club after league leaders Chelsea temporarily opened up a seven point lead following their 4-2 away win against Tottenham Hotspur.
Sir Alex Ferguson chose to revert to his classic 4-4-1-1 formation for the game. David De Gea started in goal ahead of Anders Lindegaard. The back four stayed unchanged with Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans at centre-back, Patrice Evra at left-back and Rafael Da Silva at right-back. Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick started in the midfield with Antonio Valencia on the right wing. Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie took up the other three spots. There were nominally two strikers and a left winger but the three strikers kept on rotating their positions in an extremely fluid formation.
Like so many other times this season, United got off to a bad start as Rooney scored an own goal in the tenth minute from a Stoke City set-piece. However, Rooney made amends later in the half by heading in from close range from RvP's pinpoint cross. United then went into the break a goal ahead as RvP diverted the ball into the net from Valencia's low, driven cross.
The second half began with a bang for United as Wayne Rooney's cross was turned into the net by an acrobatic header from Danny Welbeck. The hearts of the Old Trafford faithful were in their mouths for a few minutes as Michael Kightly took advantage of confusion in the United defence to score Stoke's second goal on 58 minutes. Wayne Rooney, however, calmed the nerves seven minutes later as he calmly scored from close range.
Overall, it was a good attacking performance from Manchester United, even though questions remain over their defence. Here is a list of five things we learnt from the game today.