It was suppose to be an easy match for United, travel down to Norwich, pick up three points, and maintain their lead in the standings. However, something was amiss with United going into the match, Rooney hadn't traveled with the team, De Gea wasn't in net, and the midfield starters included Giggs. While United had found themselves working from behind many times so far this season, that usually meant from a scoring stand point and not a strategic plan. Norwich plan was to fend off the advancing runs of Van Persie and Hernandez by disrupting passes from the midfielder forward, something that clearly went unnoticed by Alex Ferguson through the first half. Although United did have a couple of chances in the first 45 minutes, the home team stuck to their plan and held their ground to keep things scoreless at the first whistle.
Perhaps halftime is what did in United, instead of adapting to the situation, Ferguson assumed his team could simply power through the slower and smaller Norwich midfield. With no substitutions, the first fifteen minutes of the second half was much like the first half, every United attack was met by the Norwich defense in the midfield. Anthony Pelkington was fed a perfect cross by Javier Garrido and he simply flipped the ball over the United keeper and into the upper left corner of the net. From then on it was every player to the back for the final 30 minutes as the Canaries attempted to hold onto their lead. United made sure to test their opponent, earning a total of 12 corner kicks, every single one was met by either a defender or the keeper, John Ruddy who played the match of his career. As the minutes ticked away Ruddy seemed to only get better, stopping shots from both sides of the net and even an lose header that nearly went in for an own-goal. Ferguson sent in Scholes, Welbeck, and Anderson to try and break through the Norwich defense, but to no avail. Even with four minutes of "Fergie Time" at the end of the match, United could not find an equalizer and the match ended with one of the biggest upsets of the season.
Statistic of the Weekend - 11 Matches
Manchester United have been scored on first an astonishing 11 out of 12 matches this season. Amazingly enough, they had gone on to win 6, tie 3 and lose only 2 of those matches. One of those loses came on Saturday to Norwich, but Red Devil fans have to be wondering why their defense has been so quick to give-up goals. Even being down first in most of their matches, United still held the lead in the standings coming into the weekend, even with their cross-town neighbors Manchester City being undefeated.
Star of the Weekend - John Ruddy
The keeper for Norwich may have played the match of his career Saturday against United, but John Ruddy wasn't in such top notch form to start the season. He had given up five goals against both Fulham and Liverpool and another four goals against Chelsea to start the season. But over the last four matches coming into Saturday he had given up just a single goal and when the day was over he had given up just that single goal in five matches. Fourteen shots, six on goal, and twelve corner kicks from United could not beat Ruddy, that's a stat line worthy of our top performer spot for the weekend.
Beating Aston Villa 5-0 at home couple with United and Chelsea loses put Manchester City at the top of the table for the first time this season. Here is a look at the top and bottom of the standings after 12 matches.
1. Manchester City - 28 points, +15 GD (8-4-0)
2. Manchester United - 27 points, +12 GD (9-0-3)
3. Chelsea - 24 points, +11 GD (7-3-2)
4. West Brom - 23 points, +6 GD (7-2-3)
17. Reading - 9 points, -5 GD (1-6-4)
18. Aston Villa - 9 points, -12 GD (2-3-7)
19. Southampton - 8 points, -12 GD (2-2-8)
20. Queens Park - 4 points, -14 GD (0-4-8)