Manchester United 3 West Ham 1
The only thing that here resembled United’s previous two home games in the Premiership was the soft goal given away late in the game. Fortunately, by the time Carlton Cole exploited United’s flat-footed defending to score for West Ham, the Reds were already three goals to the good and the naive defending that allowed West Ham to spring the offside trap was a rare lapse in a highly professional performance.
United were in command throughout and, from the moment a one-two combination between Welbeck and Rooney saw the former put away his third goal in two league games, there was only going to be one result. While Welbeck again gave a superb performance up front, his strike partner interchanged brilliantly with Tom Cleverley at the pinnacle of the United midfield and they gave West Ham problems all afternoon. Their performances were perhaps eclipsed by that of the second goalscorer: Adnan Januzaj, minutes after being denied what looked a decent claim for a penalty, left James Collins for dead when he cut in and switched the ball from his left foot to his right and finished expertly.
Both goalscorers gave way in the second half and it was Januzaj’s replacement, Ashley Young, who supplied United’s third goal, and it was perhaps the pick of the three. United kept patient possession in the opposing half until the ball was played across the edge of the area, eventually reaching Rooney whose simple lay-off allowed Young to crash the ball into the top corner of the West Ham goal.
Cole’s late consolation goal allowed the scoreline to flatter an ordinary West Ham team, but United will be delighted with a third performance in a week that combined passing at pace with some clinical finishing. The Reds will go into two away games over the Christmas period high in confidence. While seeing Liverpool and city at the top of the Premiership won’t make easy reading for any United fan, there can be justified optimism that their team’s recent performances have shown something like an authentic stamp of United quality.