After a home defeat against Southampton, Manchester United were eager to return to the field in search of three points against relegation-fearing Queen Parks Rangers. United were keen on their opportunity win a match away from Old Trafford, winning only two matches on the road so far this campaign.
Louis Van Gaal fielded United in the 3-5-2 formation yet again, starting David De Gea in net, Marcos Rojo, Jonny Evans, and Phil Jones as centerbacks, Michael Carrick at center defensive midfielder, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata in center attacking midfield positions. Daley Blind and Antonio Valencia played left and right wingback. Ángel Di María and Radamel Falcao started in striker positions.
The game was yet another tale of two halves, as United's change in tactics at the second half seemed to win them the match. In the first half, United dominated possession, producing compelling chances on goal. Falcao was almost the beneficiary on an early attempt, receiving a through ball in the air, which he controlled deftly on his left foot and volleyed on goal again with his weak foot. QPR goalkeeper, Rob Green was up to the task, however, and thwarted the Colombian's effort on goal, including his second attempt on a rebound.
Charlie Austin, December's Barclays Premier League Player of the Month, also, produced scoring opportunities of his own. The first, a result of shoddy defending by Jonny Evans, was catalyzed by a well-weighted through ball from Bobby Zamora to Austin, whose chance taken first touch was parried by David De Gea. At the half hour mark, De Gea stopped a second chance, as Austin created a half-volley opportunity for himself from 25 yards out.
During the halftime intermission, Van Gaal made critical changes both to substitutions and formation. He substituted Juan Mata for Marouane Fellaini, which allowed his side to adopt the tactics of the traditional 4-4-2. In the second half, another beautiful chance was created for Falcao, who was unable to finish the opportunity provided by the incisive Di María cross.
After James Wilson came on for Jonny Evans, United would breakthrough in the contest. Wayne Rooney started the move, finding Antonio Valencia on a run just outside box. His cross found the run of Marouane Fellaini, who made no mistake with his chance; he crushed his volley past defenders and Robert Green to grab the lead, Manchester United 1, Queens Park Rangers 0.
QPR were not without chances to equalize. A breakaway was created when Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick collided and lost the ball in their own attacking half. The break was on for QPR winger, Eduardo Vargas, who did his best to find the best pass, but ultimately waited too long, losing the chance to a clearance by the United defense. United's defense managed to stand tall the entire game, maintaining a clean sheet.
At the end of the match, United doubled their lead. James Wilson sprung free on a break started by a Di María through ball. He dribbled the ball onto his left foot and struck a pop shot past his defender. The shot was saved, but the rebound fell at Wilson's feet again. Given the second opportunity, he calmly placed the ball into the left corner of the net, United 2, QPR 0. The match finished right after with the referee's whistle.
United fans can be satisfied with the result: away fixture, away victory, three points. Louis Van Gaal still has questions to answer. Will Falcao stay? For a striker in peak form, the Colombian has yet to startle the Dutch manager with a run of top form. With a costly salary of 265,000 pounds, Falcao will be to expensive to keep and better off replaced if he is unable to produce quality. Will David De Gea sign his new contract? Also, how can you justify employing the 3-5-2 formation over the conventional 4-4-2 in light of their respective performances in recent results? United have a break from Premier League competition this week, but still have a match this week. They face Cambridge United away in the English Football Association Cup on Friday at 2:55 ET on Fox Sports 1. In BPL competitions, United face Leicester City next on January 31st.