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Manchester United : 5 Players Who Will Be Pivotal in Their Title Defense

Sriram IlangoCorrespondent IAugust 12, 2011

Manchester United : 5 Players Who Will Be Pivotal in Their Title Defense

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    Manchester United is undoubtedly the team that you have to beat to win the Premier League this season. With the additions of Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea, the champions are rock solid in all areas.

    Although football is teamwork, you really need the help of individual brilliance to life your spirits up. Cristiano Ronaldo did that for United four years back, and Messi is doing it for Bacelona even now.

    Manchester United, on the other hand, don't have a Ronaldo or a Messi. Still, they have to depend on certain players to keep their engine running. So, here is a list of five players who will be pivotal in Manchester United's title defense this season.

The Keeper

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    Now, the price tag on David de Gea might suggest that he will be United's No.1, but that might not be a certainty—at least for the time being. The young de Gea started the Community Shield game against Manchester City and was less than convincing. 

    Yes, he is only 20 and still trying to adapt to the English game. So no one is willing to write him off.

    On the other hand, United also have a very talented goalie in the name of Anders Lindegaard whom they have acquired last January. 

    I'm sure that Sir Alex Ferguson will give a try to both of his Goal Keepers before he chooses one. After all, it is not an easy task to fill the large shoes of Edwin van der Sar.

    de Gea or Lindegaard, it doesn't matter, but the keeper is very important if United have to defend the title. Without a solid goalie, United have always struggled. That is evident from the poor record between 2000-2006 when they were still struggling to find a replacement to Peter Schmeichel. 

Nani

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    Ashley Young, Antonio Valenicia and Park Ji-Sung are three world class wingers, but still Nani is the one who is the most dangerous at Old Trafford.

    He was voted as the Players' Player of the season last season by his own teammates. That shows how important he is to his team members.

    Although he had a forgettable later half of the campaign, he still can be proud of what he did in the first half. With Rooney and Valencia out due to injuries, it was Nani's exploits that kept United in the title race.

    The Portuguese winger finally matured last season and became a regular at Old Trafford. Although he was not picked for the Champions League finals, I still think that Nani will be the force to reckon with this season and his phenomenal performance in the Community shield will vouch for that. 

    He can play on the right as well as the left, making him an utility player. Along with Valencia and Young, he will form the most fearful wing in England.

Patrice Evra

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    38 out of 38 League starts in 2009-2010 season, 34 out of 38 in 2010-2011. Simply put, Patrice Evra is the most reliable player at Manchester United.

    The left back provides great stability at the back and great runs during counter attacks. Although physically small, he is great during set-pieces.

    Patrice Evra is now 30 years old and is in the peak of his career. Evra has matured greatly under Sir Alex Ferguson and he will continue to provide for the club.

    Why is he important?

    Simple. He is quite literally the best left back in the world and he will be important for whatever club he plays in.

Wayne Rooney

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    After Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez left in the same summer, Manchester United fans were disturbed. No great additions were made to the offense, and all hopes were on the shoulders of Wayne Rooney to deliver. And deliver he did!

    In the 2009-2010 season, Rooney started 32 games in the League—which is quite high for a striker—and scored no less than 26 goals. He pocketed 34 goals that season overall.

    However, he has a forgetful 2010-2011 campaign. With the scandal and the fall back with the team, Rooney struggled. Yet he found his form in time and showed glimpses of genius when his team needed them the most. That bicycle kick against Manchester City was one such instance.

    Rooney along with Javier Hernandez will form the most fearful front line in England with pace and finishing abilities lesser than no one. Hernandez too plays well along with Rooney. So, if United have to win, Rooney will play a major part in that.

Nemanja Vidic

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    The Soul of Manchester United's defense. Their Captain. Premier League's MVP.

    When Nemanja Vidic came to Manchester United in December 2005, he was no more than a brilliant youngster with amazing potential. But now, he is undoubtedly the World's best center back.

    Vidic has developed himself into a strong personality at the back of United's lineup. After being constantly tormented by Fernando Torres, he now torments the Spaniard. He became a regular at the squad and recently lifted the Premier League trophy as the Captain of United.

    There is no more Vidic could have wished for. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Johny Evans will have plenty to learn from the Serbian as they are the future of the club. Vidic will be in the side for at least a few more years, and during those time, United will not have to worry a lot about other team's strikers.

    With a new goal keeper, Vidic will have to do a lot in order to provide confidence to the whole team from the back.

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