Manchester United vs. Bolton Wanderers: 5 Things Learnt about United

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIJanuary 14, 2012

Manchester United vs. Bolton Wanderers: 5 Things Learnt about United

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    At Old Trafford on Saturday, we learnt more about Manchester United and their Premier League season as they romped to a 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers.

    Goals from Paul Scholes, Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick saw United join Manchester City at the EPL summit, at least temporarily.

    And whilst we didn't learn a lot about Scholes and how he's adapting back at the Red Devils, we did gain some useful information on Carrick and Welbeck, amongst others.

    Here are five things learnt about Manchester United in their home win over Bolton Wanderers.

Danny Welbeck Is Continually Improving

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    Danny Welbeck has now scored eight goals in 21 games this season, beating last term's tally of six goals in 28 games on-loan at Sunderland.

    But not only that, Welbeck is becoming much more like Wayne Rooney in that he's starting to become a playmaker of the final third.

    Against Bolton, he was the deserved man of the match, not only taking his goal well (and with an injury), but also creating three scoring chances for teammates and offering great movement to pull open the opposition defence.

    The 21-year-old is playing with a confidence he's never before had in his career, and it shows. He'll easily hit double scoring figures this campaign and looks like he'll steadily improve for years to come.

Michael Carrick Great When Given Time

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    Michael Carrick had an excellent game against Bolton, as he always does when given time and space on the ball.

    Carrick's passing was brilliant, hitting 65 passes with a 91 percent accuracy rate. He also attempted seven long balls and hit six of them with pinpoint precision, whilst also threading through a teammate for a one-on-one.

    The divisive midfielder rightly gets criticised for his performances at times, as he's nowhere near as good as he should be in demanding situations, but the statistics on Saturday prove when he's allowed time on the ball, he pulls the strings for Manchester United.

Rafael Da Silva Important to Manchester United

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    Rafael Da Silva has been raking up the appearances for Manchester United over the last few years, and it's starting to show with his seasoned performances.

    Against Bolton, Rafael had a great game and appeared to be Mr. Reliable at right-back, reminiscent of Gary Neville in his heyday. 

    Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been decent in that slot for United this season, but with Rafael back, Sir Alex Ferguson now has trustworthy options on both sides of his defence.

    The 21-year-old's defensive contribution was great as he won three tackles, made two interceptions and four effective clearances, as well as blocking two shots and clearing another off the line.

    Plus, he had that great understanding with Antonio Valencia which brings the best out of them both.

Nani Is Inconsistent

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    Nani is inconsistent—there's no doubt about it.

    Today, he struggled. He wasn't accurate with his crosses, he didn't display good decision-making and didn't provide the Old Trafford faithful with his trademark goal threat from the wing.

    The Portuguese winger isn't really used as a traditional winger anymore—more so as a threat from the wings who'll cut inside with the ball and test the 'keeper or lay it off for a teammate.

    All he really did today was manage two shots on goal, both poor.

Antonio Valencia Is Manchester United's Best Winger

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    Antonio Valencia, unlike Nani, was great against Bolton and proved he's Manchester United's best winger as he gave opposition number Sam Ricketts the run-around.

    He proved that at Manchester City in the FA Cup last weekend and did so again today, displaying his consistency by doing what wingers are meant to do—beat their opponent and get the ball into the penalty area.

    Granted, he wasn't the most accurate with his crossing, but he did what Nani didn't, and that was create a plethora of great goalscoring chances for the strikers.

    He isn't going to get the goals himself, but he makes a better contribution to the scoring of goals than any of United's wide men.

    The Red Devils are clearly a much better team with Valencia in the side.