PLAY IT SHORT: Rooney shows up Utd midfield; Torres defeated his demons; Hart clash with Keane says it all; Lovren buy of season
MOYES LISTENED TO FERGIE AND THREW THE KITCHEN SINK AT 'EM
'We'd throw the kitchen sink at 'em'. David Moyes may not yet have read Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography, but he must have seen Fergie's interviews last week for his book launch. Pilloried for his cautious approach after the draw with Southampton, the Manchester United manager went 'all in' for the comeback against Stoke City. On went Adnan Januzaj, Javier Hernandez and Antonio Valencia and out went any semblance of a traditional formation. And the gamble paid off. The three points were secured, the tension around Old Trafford evaporated and the way the Chicharito's winner was celebrated will be felt for weeks to come. It was reminiscent of the Fergie/Brian Kidd madness against Sheffield Wednesday 20 years ago. Perhaps it's too early to talk about a watershed moment, but for those fans at Old Trafford it will have felt like something special in the club's history.
ROONEY SHOWS MOYES WHAT'S MISSING IN UNITED MIDFIELD
The 'all-or-nothing' roll of the dice from David Moyes will be celebrated today. But it will not be lost on the Manchester United manager that the tempo of his team immediately increased with Wayne Rooney dropping into a flagging midfield. Rooney, working from deep, continually drove United forward, snapping into tackles, spraying the ball to all corners of the pitch. Cajoling. Inspiring. He injected into United's midfield the energy they have visibly missed this season. On the day chief executive Ed Woodward declared the club were determined to bring the best of the world's talent to Old Trafford, Moyes' need to for that genuine midfield general was made clear by Rooney's make-shift effort against Stoke City on Saturday.
LOVREN AMONG BUYS OF THE SEASON
Yes, yes, Mesut Ozil is hands down the signing of the season. But a near competitor to the Arsenal man must be Southampton's Croatian defender Dejan Lovren. The rise of Saints this season owes a lot to the presence of Lovren. Many big clubs took a close look at the former Lyon defender, including Liverpool, but only Southampton chairman Nico Cortese had the fortitude to pull the trigger. This time last season, Saints had conceded 26 Premier League goals, compared to just three this term. Take a bow, Dejan Lovren.
TORRES HAS SLAYED HIS DEMONS
Certainly, Jose Mourinho deserves great credit for the rejuvenation of Fernando Torres. But so does the player, himself. Dr Peter Bruckner, who worked with Torres at Liverpool, famously questioned whether the Spaniard could ever get back to his best at Chelsea. Not because of any physical problems, but due to the fact he'd never experienced such a dive in form during his career and had no experience of how to emerge from it. But, after his displays against Tottenham and Manchester City, Torres has obviously slayed his demons. His goalscoring performance in Chelsea's win over City was thrilling. Spiky, aggressive, Torres was involved in everything. He's not only experiencing his best time in a Blues shirt, but also going back to his final 18 months at Anfield. That self-doubt, after finding a way to overcome it, need never return.
HART LOSING FORM - AND FOCUS
No-one is guaranteed their place at Manchester City - apart, that is, from Joe Hart. When you consider the sheer effort Micah Richards is having to turn in just to stay in the thoughts of City manager Manuel Pellegrini, Hart really has had an easy ride. He needs competition - and focus. It's been floated that Hart, barely a half-hour before kickoff against Chelsea, was spotted giving both barrels to Manchester United legend Roy Keane - one of his harshest critics. Now, sure, Hart is free to hit back at any criticism - but should he be allowing himself to become distracted so near to kickoff? The Fernando Torres gaffe was something just waiting to happen.
SUNDERLAND JUST WANTED IT MORE
You could see from the goal celebrations at the Stadium of Light how much the Northeast derby mean to fans. It was a wall of noise for the full 90 and Sunderland's players simply wanted it more than Newcastle United. Gus Poyet benefitted from having a full fit Steven Fletcher to call on. But he also profited from starting with Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback and Phil Bardsley in his line-up. Local lad Colback was outstanding at times, while the much-maligned Bardsley went some way to mending bridges with fans with a performance worthy of a dressing room leader. As Poyet said in the post-match, the true test is whether his players can maintain the intensity for the next game. But for now, the pressure now shifts from Wearside back to Tyneside. After banning the Evening Chronicle from asking questions post-match, which was decided after they reported on the Mike Ashley protest march, the heat will be back on the Toon this week - and their Frenchmen.
KHAN NEEDS TO TIE DOWN ROBERTS
Fulham owner Shahid Khan will do well to bullet proof Patrick Roberts' academy contract. Those involved with the club's academy say the 16 year-old is two years ahead of schedule and his form for England U17 in European qualifying this past week has only confirmed why the country's biggest clubs are keeping close tabs. The former AFC Wimbledon junior has been watched extensively by Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool this year and Khan, in a week when he's demanding better results from Fulham's academy, should be doing all he can to help Huw Jenkins in making sure Roberts continues his development at Craven Cottage.
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