Manchester United's 20 Best Goals of the Season So Far
As the pivotal festive period approaches, Manchester United have already played over 20 games this season under new manager David Moyes, and while life at Old Trafford may not be as routine as it once was, the fans have still been able to cheer some wonderful goals and assists.
Star strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie have had to carry the team through its troubles, both individually and as a combination, with both men making plenty of headlines with the quantity and quality of their finishes.
They haven't been the only players getting in on the act, however, as you'll see over the next few slides as we count down the 20 best goals scored by United so far this campaign.
Once you've finished reading, why not head to the comments section to tell us what you think of the selection, how the goals were ranked and whether any of the strikes we omitted deserved a place and why.
At the time it was hailed as the goal that could turn around a season, as Hernandez completed United's dramatic comeback against Stoke at Old Trafford back in October with a late thumping header.
While the full-back's celebration looked to be almost resigned, almost like he was saying goodbye to the Old Trafford crowd, his goal was an enjoyable piece of play, created by a searching Rooney pass.
The goal that sparked off United's Champions League campaign was a smart finish, bounced into the net by United's player of the season so far, Rooney.
20. Van Persie vs. Arsenal (1-0)
A goal included due to its importance rather than its quality, van Persie's winner was the only strike to trouble the scoreboard against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman's celebration is well worth watching another time too.
19. Valencia vs. Fulham (1-0)
Antonio Valencia's opener against Fulham was all about the patience and composure shown by Rooney in holding onto the ball, waiting for the right opportunity and playing in his teammate.
Simple, smart and well worked.
18. Van Persie vs. Southampton (1-1)
If Valencia's goal against Fulham was notable due to the poise shown by its creator, van Persie's finish against Southampton is all about the striker's ability to salvage a strike out of the clutches of failure.
Rooney was involved again as his initial shot was parried away by Artur Boruc.
17. Rooney vs. Bayer Leverkusen (3-1)
Rooney sealed his 200th goal for the club with a rather straightforward yet elegant shot that slid into Leverkusen's goal.
It may not have been the most spectacular strike in the history of the game, yet for a player so often criticised for his inability to get the basics right and ensure his technique is polished, it was a classy example of his powers as a Champions League goalscorer.
16. Valencia vs. Bayer Leverkusen (1-0)
Another goal for Valencia: this time his opener in United's 5-0 away win against Leverkusen.
Following a tidy bit of team play, which moved the ball up from midfield and onto the margins of the opposition's box, a lofted ball over to the far post fed the winger, who arrived unsighted to smash Rooney's delivery into the back of the net.
15. Rooney vs. Cardiff City (1-0)
Had Rooney's shot had flown into the goal without a deflection from Gary Medel, it may have featured higher up this list due to the silky build-up play as well as the Englishman's ability to create himself the space to shoot.
It's still a well-worked goal even with the scruffy finish, mind.
14. Van Persie vs. Fulham (2-0)
Smashing the ball past Maarten Stekelenburg at a tight angle, van Persie doubled United's lead to 2-0.
Like Rooney's goal in the previous slide, this one is affected by a bit of faulty play—Adnan Januzaj's foul on Scott Parker gave the strike a touch of unwanted controversy—but as it came at the start rather than the end of the move, it takes less away from the striker's finish.
13. Smalling vs. Bayer Leverkusen (4-0)
Another nice team goal from United as they made it 4-0 in their dominant away win in Germany.
Chris Smalling—playing at right-back on the night—was the player who somehow found himself heading towards the far post with Shinji Kagawa dinking a ball over the top to Rooney, who tipped it left to the defender.
The Englishman deserved his goal, having missed out on claiming a strike earlier in the match which was instead rightly recorded as an own goal by Emir Spahic.
12. Van Persie vs. Swansea City (3-0)
United's third goal of the Premier League season—and van Persie's second—was a wonderful solo effort by the club's Dutch hit man, who danced through a panicked Swansea defence to fire home a fierce shot from the edge of the box.
11. Januzaj vs. Sunderland (1-0)
Scoring your first two senior goals in your first senior start for United is no mean feat, and with Januzaj's brace proving to the difference against Sunderland, his decisive impact made him an instant hero for the fans.
His first came after the Belgium-born Kosovar-Albanian arrived late in the area to smack home the equaliser for United, following Craig Gardner's opening strike in the fifth minute.
10. Van Persie vs. Wigan Athletic (1-0)
The first competitive goal of United's season came at Wembley during their Community Shield clash with Wigan Athletic, and it came from van Persie in the sixth minute.
After van Persie sent a pass out wide to Patrice Evra, the Frenchman delivered a cross back to him as he arrived in the penalty box, glancing the ball past Scott Carson with his forehead.
A deceptively technical finish.
9. Jones vs. Norwich City (3-0)
Phil Jones is a player usually celebrated more for his courageous defensive work and versatility, but against Norwich in the League Cup he was able to volley home an impressive shot to make the scoreline 3-0.
While the England international was clearly pleased with his goal, his centre-back mentor, Nemanja Vidic, was delighted for his young protege, who is likely to be spending far more time in midfield than defence this season.
8. Januzaj vs. Sunderland (2-0)
Now to Januzaj's second goal against Sunderland, which ensured United left the North East as winners with three points under their arms.
With the ball squirming out of the Black Cats' box towards the young attacking midfielder, he centred himself, took a breath and made sure his connection was sweet to send his volley screaming into the net.
7. Van Persie vs. Bayer Leverkusen (2-1)
Acrobatic, athletic and impressively technical, van Persie's goal against Leverkusen at home earlier this year was a wonderful finish befitting of the Champions League.
Valencia was the provider, sending in a cross to set up the virtuoso goalscorer.
6. Rooney vs. Stoke City (2-2)
Rooney's goal—United's second equaliser of the game against Stoke—was a beautifully directed header made all the more impressive by the starting position of his head and body.
Forced to spin round to face goal while meeting the ball with his forehead, he then had to ensure he could turn his neck to the right angle to deflect his header into the goal, unsighted.
5. Valencia vs. Bayer Leverkusen (4-1)
Valencia's third and final entry in this countdown was the finishing touch to United's 4-2 victory against Leverkusen at home.
Still the finest team counter-attack goal produced by Moyes' side so far this season, Rooney and Ashley Young combined well to slice through the acres of space left by the visitor's out-of-position defenders, before sending the Ecuadorian in to finish the move.
4. Welbeck vs. Swansea City (4-1)
Deft, delicate and delicious, Danny Welbeck had the last say in United' 4-2 win against Swansea on the opening day of the season with an exquisite chip over Michel Vorm.
The England striker has long been a player more comfortable scoring difficult goals than snapping in supposedly easy and more instinctive chances, and while his second of the game against the Swans may have been stylish, fans won't mind him turning scruffy to become more prolific.
After all, with van Persie's fitness far from reliable at present, Rooney will need help if he is to carry the team to meet its top four objectives.
3. Rooney vs. Manchester City (1-4)
United's 4-1 defeat to Manchester City may have been a painfully brutal examination of Moyes' tactics, the team's quality and the club's summer transfer window complacency, but Rooney's consolation free-kick was still a wonderful piece of skill.
Lofting the ball over the wall, it arced into the top corner, with just enough spin to deny Joe Hart as he desperately grasped at the incoming shot.
2. Nani vs. Bayer Leverkusen (5-0)
This extremely well-taken goal by Nani brought United's away victory over Leverkusen to 5-0.
With Rooney providing a looping, chipped long ball over the field, the strike bore some similarities to van Persie's sublime title-winner against Aston Villa last season, yet the Portuguese winger added his own twist to the delivery.
Racing forward with the ball at his feet, he dribbled around Bernd Leno in the home side's area to slot home from the tightest of angles.
1. Van Persie vs. Swansea City (1-0)
The first goal scored by United in this year's Premier League season arguably remains their best of the current term so far.
Following a high ball over the Swansea defence by Ryan Giggs, van Persie took the ball forward in front of goal.
From there, he fought through his three markers to somehow improvise a barely comprehensible bit of skill to hit the ball home, with his right leg swinging up above his head as he fell to the floor.
United fans will be hoping the team's current slump is only temporary. Otherwise, Moyes' debut 4-2 league win against Swansea could prove to be as good as it gets for this season at least.
In the future, will the the club's post-Ferguson era appear to be all down here from here?
Getting van Persie back in action, happy and in shape, and able to score more incredible goals, will be vital to ensuring the club can cast off its midtable malaise sooner rather than later.
What do you think of the list? Did we miss any goals worthy of the top 20, or do you disagree with the order or reasoning?
Let us know with a comment below!
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