Saturday, 11 February 2012

Valencia provides the spark

In the last seven days there have been glimpses that Manchester United are beginning to approach their best form. Their second half performances at Stamford Bridge and this afternoon at Old Trafford have been noticeable for the goals of Wayne Rooney; however, it is Antonio Valencia who is providing the creative spark the United talisman has been craving all season.

The top sides this season have been really struggling for creativity and it has been refreshing to see Valencia returning to his best form. He is tremendously quick and is built perfectly for modern day football; he is strong and slight whilst remaining incredibly fleet of foot which makes him very difficult to play against. The Ecuadorian winger is predominantly found hugging the right touchline where his crossing ability can be demonstrated to full effect.

What makes Valencia so integral to United’s current set up is his understanding with Rooney. A couple of seasons ago the winger was responsible for assisting many of the striker’s goals and their understanding is clear for everyone to see. More than once this afternoon Rooney drove one of his trademark passes out to the right touchline where Valencia would control the ball, beat a defender and then find his teammate in the area with a delightful cross. His assist for Rooney’s second was his ninth of the season and it looks like more are on their way.

Many of the Premier League’s other strikers would kill for the service Valencia provides. What separates him from many of his counterparts is his fantastic selflessness which enables his strikers to score so many goals. One of the biggest problems that Fernando Torres has is that many of Chelsea’s players will do something themselves after creating an opening rather than play in the Spaniard. At United once Valencia has an opening he usually finds a red shirt to score the goal. This unerring selflessness is one of the defining features of this current United side and is one of the key factors in their success.

This is his third year at United after an injury ravaged second season and he is proving once again that he is one of the best wingers around. In a recent interview Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola actually stated he believed he was currently the best winger in the world; if his form continues like this until the end of the season he could well be proved right.

It appears that the title will be remaining in Manchester this season but its exact location will remain a mystery for the next few months. It must worry Manchester City and their manager Roberto Mancini that United are beginning to crank up through the gears as the title race enters the final stages. Few would back against United if the gap remains small until the later stages and with Antonio Valencia in this kind of form goals are not going to be hard to find.

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