1. While there's Van Persie, there's hope
The oustanding striker in the Premier League last season, Robin van Persie has scored six of United's 10 goals so far in the new campaign (including the Community Shield), should have made it seven and is clearly going to be a key figure again. Old Trafford would have been a nervous place had he not quickly restored United's lead tonight with a typically accomplished volley that required precise timing and a perfect first touch. Whether he should take as many set-pieces is a matter for debate but goalkeepers cannot relish seeing both him and Rooney hovering over a free-kick within shooting range.
2. Rooney is back in favour and full of himself
After all the fuss about Wayne Rooney wanting to leave this summer, United are already reaping the reward for quite rightly standing firm. To his credit Rooney has also knuckled down, a fact appreciated by the United supporters, who have been right behind him. Goals like tonight's can only help, even if the first one should have been disallowed. Both were well taken and he was close to another Champions League hat-trick but had to be satisfied with an asssist and reaching the rare landmark of 200 goals for the club.
3. Shinji Kagawa needs to find his best position
With Nani suspended, the Japanese midfielder was brought in on the left flank, where Ashley Young had played against Crystal Palace on Saturday. But he is not a natural winger. When he came inside, partly to make sure Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini were not outnumbered three against two, it became incumbent on Patrice Evra to supply the width. Fortunately Evra seems keen to prove that United do not need Leighton Baines.
4. United still don't have a midfield destroyer
Marouane Fellaini had an acceptable full debut as one of the holding midfielders with Carrick but he is not – by any wildest stretch of the imagination – Nobby Stiles. Neither is Carrick, for all his quality on the ball, so Leverkusen, when they pushed forward, had possibilities. Their first goal came when neither of the holding men closed down Simon Rolfes quickly enough and for a brief period it looked as if United's evening might turn sour. Fortunately the second goal did not matter either.
5. David Moyes will use his squad to good effect
Unlike Manchester City's Manuel Pellegrini, who put too many eggs in the Champions League basket in order to secure victory tonight, picking the wrong team at Stoke on Saturday, Moyes got the balance just right. He did not underestimate an easier fixture than City's at the weekend, fielding a strong side at home to Palace, and limited changes to three tonight, with Chris Smalling and Fellaini joining Kagawa in the starting XI. He will need to continue getting that right for a successful first Champions League campaign.
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- Crystal Palace FC
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- Michael Carrick
- Patrice Evra
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- UEFA Champions League
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