Manchester United's midfield displays a soft centre… so is Lampard the answer
Manchester United struggled at Newcastle, particularly in midfield. ALEX KAY looks at their current troubles and why Frank Lampard could provide the answer…
A MIDFIELD MESS
United were outpowered in midfield against Newcastle, something which will again be a concern for Sir Alex Ferguson when they face Manchester City. They have struggled to find a settled central midfield this season, fielding 10 different combinations in their 20 Premier League games.
United had just three shots on target against Newcastle, most likely down to the fact that their passing in the home side’s half was dismal — it’s only been worse once this season.
SO IS LAMPARD THE ANSWER
Lampard has scored more goals than any midfielder this season — only Robin van Persie has netted more match-winning goals — and the Chelsea man is also in the Premier League’s top 10 most accurate passers, a list which contains no Manchester United players.
AND THEY WILL WANT TO AVOID THE TREBLE
After two defeats on the spin, Manchester United will be looking at Sunday’s trip to Manchester City with a degree of trepidation — they haven’t lost three matches in a row since May 2001.
THE 2001 RUN
May 5 — Man Utd 0-1 Derby, Premier League
May 13 — Southampton 2-1 Man Utd, PL
May 19 — Tottenham 3-1 Man Utd, PL
On target: Les Ferdinand hit the thrid for Spurs in 2001
THERE’S ANOTHER PROBLEM, TOO… UNDONE BY THE LONG BALL
Alan Pardew sensed that United had a weakness in the air, picking Shola Ameobi as a target man alongside Demba Ba. They sensed a vulnerability, hitting more long balls than normal — and they were proved right as two of their three goals came from punts forward.
% long balls played in a match by Newcastle this season…..14
% long balls played by Newcastle on Wednesday night…….. 21
Aerial presence: Shola Ameobi (right) was a menace against United