On Saturday, September 16, Manchester United crushed Wigan Athletic 4-0 to move into second place in the Barclays Premier League standings. New signees Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell both scored in their first game with the Red Devils.
Here are three thoughts on the match:
The day of landmarks
Three Manchester United players reached career landmarks in this match: Ryan Giggs played in his 600th Premier League game; Rio Ferdinand made his 400th appearance; and Paul Scholes scored the game-winning goal in his 700th game with the Red Devils.
All three players are reaching the end of their careers, but it's still a joy to watch them take the pitch. It's clear that all three men still have a lot to give this club. Scholes, in particular, has looked rejuvenated since returning from his brief retirement in January. Hopefully, we'll see more landmarks from each of them before they retire.
This was a significant match for Manchester United's season. The club had a lot to prove with Wayne Rooney injured and Robin van Persie resting on the bench. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson started struggling forwards Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez on the front line in hopes that they would break out of their slumps. It appeared that that wasn't going to happen when Hernandez missed on a penalty kick the team never should have received in the fifth minute.
However, after a scoreless first half between the two clubs, Manchester United finally broke out, and they did it by continually pressuring the Wigan back line. In the 52nd minute, Scholes tapped in Nani's cross for the goal after the ball was deflected to him. Just 11 minutes later, Hernandez knocked home the Red Devils' second goal of the game in similar fashion to Scholes's goal.
It's becoming clear that these are the kinds of goals that United is going to have work for when Rooney and van Persie aren't available. They have to pressure the goal and dig into the box. The Red Devils have to create openings that their strikers can normally do on their own. Now the question becomes whether or not they can do it against some of the stronger clubs in the Premier League.
The new guys
It's a little early to crown Alexander Buttner as the club's future starting left back, but he put on an impressive performance against Wigan Athletic. He completely shut down his area of the pitch and provided energy to a back line that has struggled all season. Of course, it's even more impressive that Buttner produced offensively when he rushed past the Wigan defense and scored in his debut.
Nick Powell also stunned and pleased the Old Trafford crowd by scoring his first goal as a Manchester United player in the 82nd minute. Although his time on the field was short, Powell moved well in the midfield and gave a solid performance as a substitute. I can't wait to see him grow as a player. He has an outstanding future with the Red Devils.
Derek Ciapala has been following Manchester United since childhood. He has been published on Yahoo! Sports, GatewayMMA.com and multiple other websites. You can check him out on Facebook or Twitter @dciapala.