Pure domination was the name of the game for Manchester United on Saturday, as they came away with a convincing 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday to get a critical three points in the table.
While the Black Cats came in feeling the momentum after last week's win over Reading, it was clear from the opening pitch that there would be no upset.
The Red Devils took control early, dominating possession and continually carving their way through the Sunderland defense. It didn't take long for that momentum to pay off, either, as striker Robin van Persie drilled home a goal in the 16th minute to put United ahead 1-0.
Sunderland found out quickly that the Red Devils wouldn't be happy with just one goal. Tom Cleverley got just his second goal of the season three minutes later, which was his first at Old Trafford.
With United ahead 2-0 at half, the three points felt on lock—even when a far more motivated Sunderland squad came out for the second 45 minutes. After getting only 31 percent of the possession in the first half, the Black Cats came out and continually tried to get things going on the attack.
Unfortunately, it did not happen. Just about any time United got possession for an extended period, they wound up finding a scoring opportunity and Wayne Rooney knocked home the team's third goal with a little over 30 minutes remaining.
Fraizer Campbell knocked one home for Sunderland in the 71st minute to help out the goal differential, but it was a negligible score. United dominated in just about every facet of the game they needed to en route to keeping their stranglehold in the table, per the Premier League's official Twitter feed:
A fan-run Manchester United Twitter feed also pointed out a fact that should scare all of United's Premier League opponents:
Manchester United have won all games in which Van Persie and Rooney have started together.— Manchester United (@ManUtdMyLife) December 15, 2012
Meanwhile, Stretty News wondered if anyone was dancing following the match:
FT: United 3-1 Sunderland. Are they dancing today?— Dale @Stretty News (@StrettyNews) December 15, 2012
Robin van Persie, Manchester United: A
The high-priced striker proved his worth on Saturday, finding the back of the net for his 12th goal of the season. Cleverley wound up adding another one just three minutes after, but Van Persie's goal wound up being the game-winner.
As always, finding the back of the net is an easy path to an "A" grade, but it was Van Persie's continual leadership on the attack that proved most fruitful on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United: A
Not to be outdone by his fellow star forward, Rooney decided to add in a goal of his own in the 59th minute. It was his only shot on goal on four attempts and the English captain did draw a foul, so Saturday wasn't exactly the best day of his career.
Nevertheless, Rooney now has five goals in his last three Premier League appearances, which is certainly a massive step up from his early-season struggles.
Simon Mignolet, Sunderland: D
Obviously, Sunderland were at a pretty massive talent disadvantage this week, so it's hard to give Mignolet a failing grade. It was expected that United would get on the board for at least one, possibly two goals.
Nevertheless, considering just five of the Red Devils' 15 shots went on goal, their three goals were a little excessive. Mignolet has to do a better job at playing his position, especially in matches where his squad needs him most.
Tom Cleverley, Manchester United: A
Not exactly known for his goal scoring prowess, Cleverley's score was just his second of the season. That brings him within one goal of his Premier League high set back with Wigan Athletic in 2010-11.
As the goal went soaring past Simon Mignolet, the Premier League's official Twitter feed was on hand to capture a beautiful picture:
Frazier Campbell, Sunderland: A
It wasn't all bad for the Black Cats on Saturday. Campbell, who played for United for a spell back in 2007-2008 and 2008-09, came in as a substitute and found the back of the net, preventing a clean sheet for David de Gea.
When Campbell scored, Fox Soccer's Twitter feed took it upon itself to call out the Red Devils defense:
Considering that was Campbell's first goal in 25 matches, that calling-out may have been deserved. Either way, for a team like Sunderland, keeping the goal differential down will prove to be huge.