Manchester United 4-0 Norwich: Kagawa hattrick inspires reds

Shinji Kagawa scores for Manchester United against Norwich City
Shinji Kagawa scores the first of his hattrick in the 4-0 victory over Norwich City

Manchester United prepared for the visit of Real Madrid with a 4-0 victory over Norwich City, who had beaten United 1-0 earlier in the season. Shinji Kagawa scored a superb hattrick and Wayne Rooney hit a superb strike in to the top corner in the ninetieth minute. The 4-0 victory puts Manchester United fifteen points clear, with Manchester City traveling to Aston Villa on Monday night. The win was the 33rd time United had beaten Norwich in all competitions. Here we discuss the talking points of a one sided game, where a single player stole the show – Shinji Kagawa. We welcome comments from both sets of fans.

Shinji Kagawa Hattrick
All you need is Shinji Kagawa, apparently. The Japanese summer signing from Borussia Dortmund hit his first hattrick for United, the second player to do so this season following Robin van Persie’s three against Southampton in September. It was the Dutchman who setup Kagawa for his first goal of the match in first half stoppage time. His second came with fifteen minutes to go following a superb pass from Michael Carrick to put in Wayne Rooney who drove into the box before lining up the onrush playmaker. A deft and quite superb subtle right footed pass in to the net followed.

His final strike came after he started the move on the half way line, passing the ball to Welbeck who was in acres of space just inside the Norwich half. Welbeck’s driving run and pass to Rooney, with Kagawa lingering behind play before the pass, saw what Ferguson paid Dortmund the money for – a great first touch to take out two defenders followed by a even better chip over the out rushing keeper. Kagawa is the first Asian player to score a hattrick in a Premier League match and the first midfielder (if of course you consider Cristiano Ronaldo an attacker) to score a hattrick since Paul Scholes in 2002/03 (against Newcastle United). Sir Alex Ferguson had suggested last month that it has taken time for Kagawa to settle in England, but yesterday sung the praises of the midfield star, who now has scored five league goals, and suggested there is more to come.

Many Reds were impressed by Kagawa in the 1-0 defeat against Everton at the start of the season, operating off an out of sorts Wayne Rooney. His gliding grace across the Goodison Park turf was the only shining light in a somewhat disappointing performance. Since his debut, he has shown glimpses of his class, but as Ferguson suggests – the best is definitely yet to come from the versatile star. He has been deployed as a number ten, just off the main forward – wide left in a 442 and also on the left in a diamond – but I think his best position will be in that space between midfield and attack. Against Norwich, he started off on the left hand side before moving more central in the second half – as demonstrated by his passing stats below.

Shinji Kagawa passing stats against Norwich

* Screenshot provided by FourFourTwo statszone

Kagawa was quiet in the 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Bernabeu three weeks ago, but there is no doubting his qualities as a footballer and his performance will give Sir Alex a selection dilemma on Tuesday night. Have your say, should Kagawa start on Tuesday night behind Robin van Persie, with Wayne Roobey operating in a wide area?

See Shinji Kagawa’s hattrick here:

Two assists and a great goal from Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney had his part to play in a Kagawa’s magnificent hattrick, setting up two of the three goals for the Japanese star. He also got on the scoresheet himself with a superb long range effort in the final minute of the game. Rooney has scored great goals in the past, the volley against Newcastle United and the overhead kick against Manchester City spring to mind, but he hasn’t been as prolific with his wonder strikes so far this season. Tuesday night is made for Wayne Rooney, however – with Robin van Persie starting as the focal point of the attack, it will be whether Ferguson decides to deploy Rooney through the centre – or sacrifice his creativity for his work rate in a wide birth to restrict the attacking threat of Angel Di Maria or, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rooney is in 4th place in United’s all time top goal scorers. It is doubtful that he will catch Jack Rowley’s 211 this season, but that record is a very achievable target next term. Whatever many Reds still think of Rooney following his flirtation with Manchester City some years back, he has been some player for Manchester United over the years and hopefully will continue to do so. His qualities are obvious as an attacking threat – vision, pace and he gets your out of his seats with his goals, which have all contributed to his goals over the years. But when he is asked to play second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo, Dimitar Berbatov and now Robin van Persie – it is clear to see his goals have suffered as a consequence:

Wayne Rooney’s goals for Manchester United since 2004/05

But when you are such a total footballer, that can play up top, as a number ten, in midfielder (although rarely) or wide as a defensive outlet – it is hard for a manager to not utilise these qualities when competing against top class opposition. His goals per games (starts only measured) have suffered in the past when not the main forward, which of course is expected, but has a better ratio so far this season than other campaigns – excluding the two where he hit 34 goals each.

Wayne Rooney’s goals per game for Manchester United since 2004/05

Kagawa would not have scored his hattrick without the running and vision of Wayne Rooney, but if Sir Alex looks to limit Real Madrid from wide areas – as he did against Inter Milan’s swashbuckling fullback Maicon at Old Trafford in 2009 – he will surely use Rooney on the right hand side? Where do you think Rooney should play on Tuesday? have some great bets on Rooney to score against Reading in Manchester United’s next Premier League fixture.

Its hard to discuss many talking points in such a one sided match, with Norwich City only managing a single shot on goal. Kagawa showed his class with two excellent second half goals to add to his first half injury time strike. The match was all about Kagawa, with many doubters raising an eyebrow and the obvious talent on display. Robin van Persie hasn’t scored since the 2-0 victory against Everton, and will no doubt be looking to the Madrid match to get back on the scoresheet following his wasted chances against the same opposition three weeks ago. With Jones still an injury doubt it will be interesting who Sir Alex decides to partner Michael Carrick in the centre of the midfielder on Tuesday, with Tom Cleverley replacing the misfiring Anderson in the second half.

Manchester United have ten games left and there are still a number of tricky fixtures left, starting at West Ham next Saturday. There is of course the small matter of the Spanish Champions, Real Madrid, in the way on Tuesday – but expect an absolutely brilliant football match. The victories over QPR and Norwich City will fill the United players with confidence going into the match, but so to will Real Madrid’s last two victories over quite decent opposition – Barcelona.

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