It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago most of us were frustrated with him, but in the span of two months Antonio Valencia has regained the title of not only our best winger, but also probably the best in the Premiership right now.
Even then Valencia is underrated and many people don’t see how valuable a player he is.
When I say at his best Valencia is easily the best winger in the Premiership, I’m not making a bold statement rather just stating the obvious. I say this even though United boasts two other exceptional wingers in Young and Nani.
On his day, he can destroy any fullback he comes up against with his blistering pace or physicality.
Though many call him one dimensional, the beauty of Valencia’s game is in its simplicity. He is what one would call a traditional winger, a player who was once upon a time tasked with the job of running down the wings and providing crosses for strikers to put away with ease.
This is something Valencia has mastered over the years, especially since his arrival at United. His proficiency at crossing is clearly shown by the number of assists he has provided for Rooney and our other strikers in the past few seasons.
His start to this season was far from ideal; it all began with an injury during the Copa America to the ankle he damaged last season. As a result he missed our entire pre-season and thus spent most of August trying to get back match fitness.
Upon his eventual return, he was deployed at right back due to our ongoing injury crisis and when he did eventually return to playing on the right wing, we saw a Valencia devoid of confidence, hesitant to take on his defender and one whose crossing was well short of what is required at Old Trafford.
But he started showing glimpses of what we all knew he was capable of, and a return to form was just a matter of time, and when it came it came in a major way!
Starting in the 4-1 over Wolves in December where he created 3 of the 4 goals, Valencia was back at his devastating best. Marauding down right wing, terrorising defenders the stats say it all; Valencia has scored 2 goals and provided 9 assists in the last 9 games he’s played for us.
What more could one ask from a winger?
He was pivotal in our win over Arsenal as he scored the first goal and then went on a brilliant run from the right wing to single handedly created the winning goal for Welbeck.
Valencia went from having 0 assists & goals in the Premiership at the start of December to joint second on the assists count with 8 in a period of less than 2 months!
While Nani and Young might dazzle us with their skills and tricks, Valencia does so quietly with crossing and direct runs. If I had to choose one of the three, Valencia would be the first choice every single time.
He defied odds when he made his comeback from injury last season and having been slated by most this season he has returned to win plaudits for his devastating performances on the wing.
Valencia has truly been an unsung hero of late and in this form is unplayable.