A win for Manchester United at home to Queens Park Rangers saw them go eight points clear of Manchester City who lost to Arsenal, later on the same day.
United were clear favourites to win against a struggling QPR side and began with great composure. QPR had hardly managed to get out of their own half when in the fourteenth minute Young was deemed to have been fouled in the box by Derry. Although there appeared to be minimal contact, it was enough for the referee to show Derry the red card. To make matters worse, replays showed that Young was clearly offside when the ball was played into him. Rooney despatched the penalty into Kenny’s bottom right hand corner taking his tally to 22 for the season (Rooney has scored 50% of his goals into that side of the net).
Having been reduced to ten men, QPR never really threatened Man United, and would have been thankful to only be one goal down at half time as Young, Evra and Welbeck all went close to getting the second goal.
Two minutes into the second half United found the back of the QPR net, but Welbeck’s goal was rightly ruled out for offside. With Scholes spraying passes to all parts of the field, a sublime dink found its way into Rafael’s path, who failed to score from 8 yards out. United’s second goal was a classic Scholes strike from the edge of the eighteen yard box. The united legend received a pass from Rafael and showed the youngster how its done. He shifted the ball out of his feet and dipped a driven shot under Kenny’s out-stretched Right hand. Not long after Scholes’ midfield partner, Carrick, thumped the ball against the inside of the post from thirty-five yards. With United taking a total of 28 shots in the game, QPR did well to only concede two goals.
Scholes dictated the game with his phenomenal range and accuracy of passing. He made 114/120 passes (95% accuracy) in 74 minutes. While Carrick managed 119/135 (88% accuracy) over 90 minutes. Scholes also created 5 chances from open play, with Carrick creating 1 chance. I see no reason why Paul Scholes could not play a part again next season, his midfield brain is one of the best, if not the best in the Premier League. He still has the sharpness in his feet to get himself out of trouble, make half a yard and make use of the pictures already formed in his mind.
(Paul Scholes’ Stats http://www.eplindex.com/13635/paul-scholes-midfield-maestro.html)
I should mention here that the comparison is due to Carrick playing in essentially the same position as a centre midfielder, not to say that he has been poor by any standard. Although in the past I have not been too keen on Carrick, this season I have seen him being more sure-footed and controlling in his role. With Anderson, Fletcher, Cleverly all injured for most of the season, and Scholes entering the fray in January, Carrick has played a crucial role in stabilising the centre. He has had to step up to the mark, take responsibility and that is what he has done, somewhat unassumingly.
Statistically there was no comparison; it would have been difficult for QPR to match United with eleven men, but being a man down at Old Trafford does not help anyone’s cause.
Manchester United have now won 11 and drawn 1 of their last 12 games. With title rivals Man City winning 7, drawing 2, and losing 3 of their previous 12. That title run-in coincides with the return of Paul Scholes, who scored on his return.
Although it is by no means a done deal; being eight points clear, with only six games remaining makes United odds on favourites to win the Premier League and clinch a record 20th English title.