Analysing Wayne Rooney's Performance vs. Tottenham

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2013

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 05:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Sociedad de Futbol and Manchester United at Estadio Anoeta on November 5, 2013 in San Sebastian, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

It may have taken an assist from Kyle Walker—yes, the same Kyle Walker who plays for Tottenham—but Wayne Rooney kept his red-hot form going in Manchester United's match against Spurs on Sunday. 

Rooney needed just 32 minutes to find the net, though it was a bit of a gift goal. Phil Jones sent a cross in the box and Walker appeared to get his wires crossed; not expecting the ball to land at his feet, he lazily stuck a foot out at the attempted cross.

Instead of clearing the play, he simply deflected the ball into the path of a streaking Rooney, who didn't miss the golden opportunity and easily guided the ball into the net.

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Not his most memorable goal, surely, but it was a much-needed equalizer after Spurs had gone ahead on a Walker free-kick that slipped below the wall and past a befuddled David De Gea.

Rooney's second goal would again come on a Tottenham error—and would again equalize—after Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris fouled Danny Welbeck in the box in a diving attempt to punch a ball free of the box. Instead, he clipped Welbeck a moment after the striker got the slightest of touches on the ball.

That set up Rooney from the spot, and the United superstar didn't miss, notching his brace.

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It was quite the landmark goal for the English superstar, as Opta Joe noted:

Rooney's two goals somewhat belied his first-half performance. In fact, the most impressive part of Rooney's game in the early going was his tracking back and lending a defensive presence, rather than making many dangerous moves forward.

Though not exactly vintage Rooney, it was what United needed with their otherwise somewhat shaky start to the match.

What was interesting about his contributions in the attack was that he, Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa interchanged with regularity going forward, a bit of positional versatility and spontaneity you might not see with Robin van Persie holding down the No. 9 spot. 

While Van Persie's clinical finishing is always missed, the ability to play multiple roles and move freely from one position to the next is Rooney's preferred style of play. That isn't completely off the table with Van Persie in the game, but it is a bit more restricted than we saw on Sunday. 


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