Rating the Manchester United Players Against West Ham
In a replay almost as tense as the first edition, Manchester United were successful in edging out their Premier League opponents, helping West Ham crash out of this season's FA Cup while they progress to the competition's Fourth Round.
There, the Red Devils will face another top tier side in Fulham, and it's vital that the English giants learn from Wednesday's close encounter at Old Trafford.
As is the case with any side as star-studded as Manchester United, the FA Cup replay showed glimpses of sheer brilliance, but certain individuals could easily do with improving upon their midweek performance.
Goalkeeper: Anders Lindegaard
Seeing a first start since early December, Anders Lindegaard had a relatively quiet afternoon in between Manchester United's posts but did nothing to stake much of a claim for a regular starting spot above David de Gea.
Although the Dane responded well in getting down quickly to stop numerous low-driven efforts, Lindegaard's distribution was poor and on several occasions gifted possession away to the opposition, encouraging the Hammers to come forth in decent numbers.
In an ideal turn of events for the Brazilian, Rafael faced little in terms of attacking pressure so was permitted to get forward on a very frequent basis against West Ham, providing a real threat to the away defence.
As has been stated in the past, the 22-year-old continues to settle as a Manchester United starter, and he put in a pretty mature display on Wednesday evening.
One expected negative of Rafael's style of play is that he can sometimes be caught out after shifting forward but fortunately found insufficient resistance in the likes of Matt Taylor and Daniel Potts and didn't pay the consequences as a result.
Left-Back: Alexander Buttner
With Patrice Evra enjoying a rare rest, Alexander Buttner was given starting responsibilities in his eighth appearance of the season and his second in the FA Cup.
Although still inexperienced as a Red Devil, the Dutchman was confident against Sam Allardyce's men and stood up well to the assaults of Ricardo Vaz Te, Gary O'Neill and, later on, Matt Taylor.
Not only was Buttner confident in defence, but he posed a very frequent force in attack and was able to catch the opponent out in their half on numerous occasions, giving his side a head start pushing forward.
While Evra may still hold great value as a starting member of the team, Buttner continues to show that he could be ready to challenge for the reins pretty soon.
Centre-Back: Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling showed in the clean sheet performance against West Ham that he can certainly go on to become one of Manchester United's premier defenders, but he still has a few kinks to work out before that can become the reality.
The former Fulham starlet was more than eager to get forward whenever possible and came close to scoring on several occasions, posing a considerable aerial threat to the opposition.
Smalling was as active in the air at the back, rising above numerous challenges from Carlton Cole to clear his lines, but a lack of concentration meant that fellow defenders had to mop up some of the 23-year-old's mistakes.
Centre-Back: Phil Jones
Back playing in his preferred central spot, Phil Jones showed just why he's being pegged by some as a future England defensive staple, shutting out the West Ham attack and leading a United line with the greatest of ease.
Despite only returning from injury several weeks ago, Jones showed no signs of a hangover and was there to clear up the mistakes of his teammates, providing a calm and collected head in the middle of a Red Devils back four.
Not only was the 20-year-old a force at the back, but he also displayed his more offensive tendencies, frequently setting the pace for the attack and initiating the rest of his side to push forward.
A very encouraging show for the future from Jones as far as Sir Alex Ferguson will be concerned.
Central Midfield: Anderson
Despite showing the odd glimmer of magic, Anderson's frustrating string of inconsistency continues to be his downfall, and the victory over West Ham once again highlighted the best and worst of the 24-year-old.
Anderson's biggest contribution of the evening was undoubtedly an exquisitely placed through ball to Javier Hernandez that ultimately led to the home side's goal, setting the gears in motion for the 1-0 win.
However, an over eagerness to replicate that majesty led to dispossessions and misplaced passing, leading to an all-round more average performance.
Central Midfield: Ryan Giggs
After a period away from the Manchester United limelight, Ryan Giggs once again proved that he still has use to the Red Devils, even at the ripe old age of 39.
The Welsh legend brought a much-needed sense of maturity to Sir Alex Ferguson's midfield, dictating the rate of play at which his side pushed upon Sam Allardyce's men. That being said, Giggs could have offered more defensively and was sometimes absent in helping his defence, although this improved as the game progressed.
Despite some neat interlinking and calmness under pressure, the win over West Ham made it clear that Giggs was not made to play in centre midfield, highlighting his use for wider positions.
Right Midfield: Antonio Valencia
A lot of bluster but little result has become a trademark of Antonio Valencia's season thus far and the meeting at Old Trafford showed such a lack of product at its fullest at times.
The Ecuadorian speedster found it somewhat easy to get the better of young Daniel Potts and although space was commonly found in enemy territory, the inability to make anything of said space will have frustrated Sir Alex Ferguson to no end.
If matches were won solely on entertainment factor, Valencia's galloping sprints would no doubt acquire a fair few points on their own, but unfortunately for the South American, his shortage of goal creation is what's currently seeing him fail to live up to previously high standards.
Left Midfield: Nani
Having not featured for the Red Devils since early November, Nani's return from injury is being looked at by some as a chance for the Portuguese international to prove his worth to the Manchester United cause, lest he be deemed unfit.
However, the 26-year-old's comeback didn't come off as planned and the bad decision-making that has attracted unwanted attention in the past once again blighted Nani's performance.
Playing with any elite European side, heroes are regularly needed, but it's often the heroes that work well with others, as well as themselves, that make it to the top.
Wasted crosses, incomplete dribbles and forced passes all contributed to a disappointing show from the winger, whose occasional glimpses of skill far from outshine some substantial lapses in judgement.
Striker: Javier Hernandez
Another industrious performance from the Mexican international gives Sir Alex Ferguson something to think about in terms of striker rotation as Javier Hernandez impressed again for Manchester United.
Latching onto Anderson's through ball,it was Hernandez who slotted in Wayne Rooney to open the Red Devils' scoring, making himself busy around opposition defenders and causing the Hammers to make numerous mistakes as a result.
However, the 24-year-old should have got on the scoresheet himself and lacked a certain killer touch when faced against Jussi Jaaskelainen one-on-one early in the second half.
Striker: Wayne Rooney
A mixed game for United's senior striker, Wayne Rooney took up position behind Chicharito, operating from what is becoming a more and more familiar position behind the attacking line.
Rooney managed to score the only goal on the night and was a consistent pest for the Hammers' defence, taking up threatening positions and making the most of his teammates' forward runs.
Another more grisly part of the forward's night was miscuing his late penalty, firing horribly over from 12 yards and failing to double his and his side's tally.
Michael Carrick—Coming on for Anderson in the 67th minute, Carrick brought a more assured presence to the United midfield, doing the easy thing as opposed to the extravagant.
Paul Scholes—Perhaps a more opposite presence to Nani in the Manchester United squad, there is not.
In comparison to the Portuguese international's wild and uncertain ways, Scholes gives you a slightly more predictable role but didn't have a great deal of time to make his impact felt.
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