Manchester United: Ranking the Players After Saturday's Match With Chelsea
After an entertaining match at Old Trafford, the Red Devils left the match today with a 3-1 victory over a hard-fighting Chelsea, bolstered by a strong midfield and some great performances from the squad's younger first-team members.
There were few surprises to the lineup, save for the inclusion of Darren Fletcher in the first team in place of Tom Cleverley and a few second-half appearances from veterans Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick.
But how did everyone measure up individually? Here's our assessment of each of United's players. But remember, they're all winners today.
Goalkeeper and Defenders
David De Gea: United's new(ish) keeper has come under scrutiny, but today he passed what has been his toughest test yet, making some key saves against a fierce Chelsea attack. We can't give him a perfect score, as Torres did manage to get past him, but he still put in a great effort against a strong offense. 8/10
Chris Smalling: His goal may have been offside, but you have to admire his speed and reaction time in getting there on a great setup from Ashley Young. He made some mistakes later and gave up a free kick, but his goal set the momentum for United's offense and the eventual victory. 7/10
Phil Jones: Jones proved his versatility and strength as part of the attack as well as the defense today, complementing Nani and setting up a few strong attempts and Rooney's sole goal. Already pegged as an impressive upstart with his England cap earlier this month, Jones has come out of today's match as one to watch. 8/10
Jonny Evans: Evans was quiet for most of the day, but a solid defensive performance and a phenomenal setup for Nani's stunner goal earn him favorable marks. 7/10
Patrice Evra: Not his best performance, including some sluggishness, a couple of errors and a late-in-the-game booking, but Evra was still pretty solid for the most part. 6.5/10
Nani: The center of United's game this weekend was the Portuguese winger, who showed great forward-thinking and power on the pitch in his 100th league appearance for Manchester United. His first-half scorcher (although it might have been a wee bit offside) doubled the lead for United, and he followed it up with a cohesive passing game and further attempts and assists. Good show. 9/10
Darren Fletcher: The veteran midfielder lacked the creativity and field presence of Tom Cleverley, who he replaced while the young upstart is out with an injury. Fletcher didn't do much on the pitch and earned a free kick for Chelsea with a late-in-the-game booking. 5.5/10
Anderson: Anderson had been experiencing a resurgence as of late, but his performance today left something to be desired. Neither stellar nor awful, Anderson was responsible for an early loss of the ball which led to Torres' first attempt. 5/10
Ashley Young: A key component of United's midfield success, Ashley Young's forward thinking and cohesion with his teammates, especially Nani, kept the Red Devils in control of the ball. Spot-on passing and some key goal setups. 8/10
Wayne Rooney: Oh Roo, where were you today? Sluggish and plagued by a few easy misses, Rooney wasn't the same striker we'd seen in previous matches, where he scored back-to-back tricks. He did manage to score though, giving United a 3-0 lead toward the end of the first half, which proves a bad day for Rooney is still sometimes better than a great day for other Premiership players. 6/10
Chicharito: Although Chicha failed to follow up with his commanding performance in last week's 5-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers, he did have some strong attempts and show cohesion with usual striking partner Rooney. Hopefully, his collision with Ashley Cole won't have any longer-term adverse effects on his physical fitness. 7/10
Antonio Valencia: A second-half substitute for a solid Chris Smalling, Valencia helped the back four prevent Chelsea from scoring again, but a foul on Juan Mata led to a subsequent booking and a free kick for the Blues, not a great position to be in when their offense is resurgent. 5/10
Michael Carrick: Carrick was a late-in-the-game substitution for Anderson. He made a couple of good defensive moves, but other than that he wasn't a particularly significant presence on the pitch. 5/10
Dimitar Berbatov: Berba came on toward the end of the match to replace Chicharito after his collision with Ashley Cole. He didn't do much, but he did miss a great opportunity off of a Wayne Rooney setup, letting it bounce off the side of the goal. Meh. 4/10