Javier Hernandez bags a brace as United claw back a two-goal deficit to see off a spirited Braga at Old Trafford. Oscar scores in Europe once again but his endeavours are not enough to prevent Chelsea from slipping to defeat at Shakhtar. Elsewhere, Arsene Wenger may hand Jack Wilshere some game time this weekend, while Bryan Ruiz remains a doubt for Fulham’s trip to Reading:
Man United 3 Braga 2
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side continued to show little sign of improving at the back – last night’s result means that have now conceded two or more goals in their last three home games in all competitions. With Sunday’s trip to Chelsea in mind, Ferguson dropped Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra from the back-four; Michael Carrick and Alexander Buttner were their respective replacements. Ferguson started with the diamond formation once again, in order to accommodate Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez but with United trailing at half-time, Kagawa made way for Nani as United switched to a more conventional shape.
Hernandez has been somewhat unlucky in terms of league starts this term – he produced a goal and assist in his only first XI appearance back in Gameweek 4 – and served a reminder of his capabilities with a pair of goals as the Red Devils came from behind to pick up the points. Kagawa and Tom Cleverley provided the assists for the Mexican’s goals, while Jonny Evans also notched. A third straight win takes United to nine points, with qualification for the knock-out stages (and subsequent European rotation) looking imminent.
Post-match, however, Ferguson revealed Kagawa’s withdrawal was also due to an injury, while Anders Lindegaard is apparently out of the Stamford Bridge showdown with a thumb problem.
“Shinji twisted his knee. We had to take him off. He struggled on for 20 minutes after he got the injury. We’ll assess it in the morning as it’s too early to say what the damage is. I was confident the diamond would be important for us but, when you’re 2-0 down, it’s easy for them to kill the game by playing it out wide. So we had to change things with Nani on the right and [Wayne] Rooney on the left. Kagawa’s injury forced my hand to play Nani as a wide player and it made a difference in terms of their possession.”
Shakhtar 2 Chelsea 1
Roberto Di Matteo made just two changes from the side that saw off Spurs last weekend. John Terry returned to partner David Luiz in central defence as Gary Cahill dropped to the bench, while Eden Hazard surprisingly made way for Frank Lampard – Ramires moved to the right flank, while Lampard slotted in alongside John Obi Mikel. Lampard lasted just 18 minutes before limping off, with Hazard his replacement. Fernando Torres made way for Daniel Sturridge on 70 minutes, while Oscar grabbed his third goal of the Champions League campaign, with Branislav Ivanovic supplying the assist.
Post-match, Di Matteo confirmed Lampard suffered a recurrence of the calf problem that kept him out of the recent England internationals. Any possible absence would be a boost for Hazard’s owners, with the Belgian likely to be on spot-kicks if Lampard is unavailable.
Arsene Wenger has revealed that Jack Wilshere could make an appearance for Arsenal in this weekend’s home clash with QPR. After the midfielder featured in Monday’s U21 win over Everton, his manager admitted:
“There is a chance. He had 90 minutes yesterday, Sagna had 90 minutes, Frimpong had 90 minutes. We’ll see how they recover. We are a little bit in a trap at the moment because he needs to play full games and of course, 48 hours later is too dangerous to play a player, or even put him on the bench, who has not played for such a long time.”
Despite being initially ruled out for last week’s trip to Norwich, Wilshere was an unused sub in the disappointing loss on Saturday evening, as the Gunners tasted defeat for the second time in three Gameweeks. With a Champions League clash against Schalke this evening, it’s likely that Wenger will continue to ease the midfielder back into action – Arsenal now have three home games in the next four but a second-half sub appearance against Mark Hughes’ side looks the likeliest of scenarios for Wilshere after his 14-month absence.
Martin Jol has admitted he is uncertain as to whether Bryan Ruiz will be available for Fulham this weekend. The Costa Rican has been a decent source of creativity for the Cottagers this term, with three assists in five appearances, but missed out in the 1-0 win over Villa on Saturday after picking up a groin problem on international duty last week. With Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric both recovering from injuries to take the front two places, Ruiz’s versatility was expected to earn him a role out wide but with Damien Duff also missing out due to illness, Jol is currently relying on Kieran Richardson and Hugo Rodallega on the flanks ahead of the trip to Reading.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby