02/11/2009 09:00, Report by Stewart Gardner
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Rollercoaster ride

Ah, the ups and downs of football.

A week ago, we all felt desolate after United’s no-show at Anfield. Now, it’s as if that miserable day in Merseyside never happened. Liverpool have crashed out of the Carling Cup and chalked up yet another Premier League defeat that surely leaves their title hopes in tatters. Meanwhile, United navigated a tricky trip to Barnsley and produced a regulation victory against Blackburn. It’s just a shame Jamie Carragher was sent off a week late!

The match reports from Saturday insist United laboured to victory. I think that’s a shade unfair. Indeed, I would argue that the 2-0 victory perfectly illustrated the strength in depth of United’s squad. There was no Ferdinand, Vidic, Neville, Giggs, Park or Hargreaves but it barely mattered. Brown and Evans dealt superbly with everything that Blackburn launched at them and contributed strongly to the all-important clean sheet.

And Gabriel Obertan’s cameo hinted at a bright Old Trafford future. Although, after speaking to Michael Carrick after the game, the young Frenchman could face a bit of stick on the training ground at Carrington this week after his glaring miss!

Talking of bright futures, long after the final whistle on Saturday I emerged from the tunnel at Old Trafford to see a deserted stadium apart from three figures in the penalty area. It was Darren Fletcher and his twins. Naturally they had their dad’s no.24 shirt on their backs and took great delight from scoring in front of the Stretford End!

Darren was on the bench on Saturday and I just hope he's fully fit for Chelsea on Sunday. Carlo Ancelotti’s team have been frightening at home this season so United face a real test. Fletcher was badly missed at Anfield; we need him at Stamford Bridge.

Before then, we have the chance to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League with two games to spare. CSKA Moscow come to Old Trafford with their third manager of the season. Leonid Slutsky

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