Angel Di Maria can spark Manchester United’s season into life
The British record transfer of Angel Di Maria may have set Manchester United back a whopping £59.7m, but that could prove to be a worthwhile signing if Sunday’s performance was anything to go by. The Argentinian was the spark that powered United to a comfortable 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, and more importantly, Louis van Gaal’s first competitive victory to lift spirits at Old Trafford and excite the expectant crowd once again.
He scored the first from a free-kick that left both the QPR defence and goalkeeper Rob Green flummoxed, bouncing in the area before finding the back of the net untouched. His bursting run down the left wing not only demonstrated his extraordinary control of the ball when running at full speed, but laid the platform for United’s second as his beautiful pass found Wayne Rooney who in turn fed Ander Herrera for the goal. While his second-half effort was fortunate enough to find Juan Matat who duly wrapped up the scoring, it looks like Di Maria will quickly become loved at United if he can reproduce those kind of performances week in, week out. It does bode the question though – why on earth did Real Madrid let him go?
Arsenal’s failure to sign a defender on deadline day has come back to haunt them immediately
While Arsene Wenger was busy signing Danny Welbeck from the Italian capital of Rome to appease those fans demanding for a new striker, the main concern was that Arsenal had just six first-team defenders available for the season ahead. Well, make that five, after summer signing Mathieu Debuchy was carried off the Emirates pitch on Saturday in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City.
Manchester United 4 QPR 0 player ratings
Manchester United 4 QPR 0 player ratings
1/22 David de Gea
Was found wanting in the first half after very nearly being caught out by Matty Phillips. Did well to save from Armand Traore in the second period, however. 7
Posed a considerable threat throughout the match down the right flank and broke effectively. A good outlet for United. 7
3/22 Marcos Rojo
Slotted into the Manchester United backline with ease. Looked decent with the ball at his feet and showed a willingness to get forward. 7
4/22 Tyler Blackett
Perhaps a misfit on a teamsheet of Galacticos, the young defender didn't look out of place in Louis van Gaal's side. 7
5/22 Jonny Evans
Needed to be alert to a QPR counter attack in the first half but had precious little to do. 7
6/22 Angel Di Maria
Showed the ambition and ability to really trouble a poor QPR side at Old Trafford. His goal had an element of luck about it but his quality is undeniable. A man of the match display. 9
7/22 Daley Blind
Cut a composed figure at the heart of Manchester United's midfield and showed the Red Devils supporters exactly what they've been missing of late. 8
8/22 Ander Herrera
Took his goal really well and linked Manchester United's defensive midfielders up with the more attacking players brilliantly. 8
9/22 Wayne Rooney
Seems more mature with the captain's armband on. The England man put in another decent shift and grabbed himself an impressive goal too. 7
10/22 Robin van Persie
While the Dutchman always poses a considerable threat, he looks out of sorts at the moment. 6
11/22 Bets of the bench: Radamel Falcao
Didn't have long to make his mark but showed enough drive to enthuse the Old Trafford regulars. 7
12/22 Rob Green
Any goalkeeper who concedes four goals isn't going to score too highly. Made a number of decent saves which keeps his score respectable. 5
13/22 Mauricio Isla
Was brought to the club to give QPR a threat down the flank but continues to struggle in English football. 5
14/22 Steven Caulker
While the former Cardiff City man didn't do a great deal wrong, he went missing for large periods. 5
15/22 Rio Ferdinand
Would have had dreams last night of scoring the winner against his old club but was easily overrun by the new United talent. 5
16/22 Clint Hill
Taken off at half-time, his deflection took Angel di Maria's cross into his own net. A poor afternoon. 5
17/22 Junior Hoilett
Made little impact on the game but shouldn't let it get him down. These aren't the games which count for Rangers. 5
18/22 Niko Kranjcar
Showed glimpses of class but, like many of his team-mates, he failed to make his mark. 5
Didn't look match-fit at times and subsequently delivered a lukewarm performance on his debut. 5
20/22 Leroy Fer
Returned to the Premier League with QPR after relegation with Norwich City. Did little to suggest he will avoid that fate again. 5
21/22 Charlie Austin
A dangerous player at QPR's disposal but was left isolated for large periods. 6
22/22 Matty Phillips
Was bitterly unlucky not to score in the first half after David de Gea's error but it wasn't to be. 6
The Frenchman faces up to three months on the sidelines with ankle ligament damage, meaning another recent arrival at the North London club Calum Chambers will have to fill in on the right side of defence for the foreseeable future. That leaves Arsenal without centre-back cover, and despite Nacho Monreal appearing in a central role in the past, his unreliability and Kieran Gibbs’ track record of injuries is a real concern for the reigning FA Cup champions.
The writing is on the wall for Alan Pardew
The writing is on the wall for Alan Pardew
As the saying goes, once you lose the fans, there’s no going back. That couldn’t have been clearer on Saturday afternoon, as one fan had to be restrained from confronting the Newcastle manager while a banner reading ‘Pardew out’ was displayed prominently in the stands at St Mary’s. The build-up to the 4-0 defeat at Southampton was also marred by an incident involving Pardew’s assistant JOhn Carver swearing at a section of the Magpies’ fans, and it appears Pardew could be on his way if he doesn’t get a result against Hull next weekend.
How unfortunate then that the man in the opposite dug-out at St James’ Park next Saturday is currently the favourite to replace Pardew, as Steve Bruce has been heavily linked with the job.
We should have listened to Jose Mourinho last season…
Remember the big horse-little horse declaration? Well it appears Jose Mourinho was right once again. The Chelsea manager proclaimed that his side were not ready to challenge for the Premier League title, and that given they could sign a prolific striker, they would challenge for the 2014-15 Premier League. We’re only four games into the season but you’d face a stiff test to find anyone that would doubt Chelsea’s title credentials, and in Diego Costa they’ve found the lethal finisher they’ve been missing since Didier Drogba’s hay-day.
Costa has scored an incredible seven goals in four Premier League appearances, unmatched since the Premier League was introduced, with his latest display landing him a hat-trick against previously unbeaten Swansea in Saturday's 4-2 win. His link-up play with fellow Spanish international Cesc Fabregas is a key reason why the Blues sit pretty at the top, two points ahead of second-placed Aston Villa, and it’s hard to see where, if any, weakness in Mourinho’s current crop could be.
10 signings later and Liverpool still haven’t solved their defensive concerns
Brendan Rodgers will have hoped the additions of Javier Manquillo, Alberto Moreno and most importantly Dejan Lovren will have shored up their leaky defence this season, but Aston Villa managed to expose them once again to prove there is still a weakness in the Reds side. Villa’s goal came through stand-in captain Gabriel Agbonlahor after a scramble for the ball in the area, but Liverpool should never have allowed the ball to drop to the ground as it should have been cleared first time.
They need only to look at their opposition on Saturday afternoon, as Villa’s defence has appeared rejuvenated and rebuilt this season having conceded just once in their opening four games. The unbeaten side sit second in the table, and if their defence can maintain the high levels they have set out this season, they’ll avoid the relegation scrap everyone had predicted with ease come May.
QPR should ready themselves for the drop, but to where?
One win from four matches is nothing to write home about – especially when it came against Sunderland – and Queens Park Rangers suffered their second 4-0 defeat of the season in the rout at Old Trafford. While a win would’ve been a surprise to us all against the likes of Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Rooney and Robin van Persie, the manner of the defeat will certainly have Rangers fans worried.
But the revelation that the Football League could fine the Loftus Road outfit a staggering £40m for a breach of Financial Fair Play rules – or drop them to the Conference as a result – will be a far more worrying prospect for the club. Such a sanction would cripple most teams, and while Tony Fernandes has been lauded by the QPR fans for his hands-on and honest approach, a £40m fine would certainly test his resolve to remain at the club. Premier League survival will be key for QPR’s future.