Man Utd: Donny van de Beek’s time has come to make a name for himself

Since joining Manchester United in the summer from AFC Ajax for a fee of £40million, Donny van de Beek has not had the perfect of starts to his new adventure at Old Trafford. So far this season, he has only made six league appearances, which have all been from the bench, where he has completed only 88 minutes of English football in his first months under manager Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer.

However, with the recent knocks to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, he was given his first Premier League start against Southampton, where he was able to show his intelligence on the ball, impressive movement and ability to help the team tick from midfield to attack. The Dutchman played the full game, completing 38 successful passes in 64 touches of the ball, winning seven out of 12 ground duels as well as achieving four tackles, proving to show how complete he is as a player.

Van de Beek is more than capable of playing in different tactical roles in midfield, from being a ball progressor in a double pivot to a box to box midfielder in the number eight position, and also as the advanced midfielder in the number ten role, which he thrived within at Ajax. In his final season in Eredivise, he produced eight goals and five assists in 23 league appearances, as he excelled as the attacking player in a three-man midfield, through his unique way of thinking outside of the box.

With a huge number of fixtures coming up for Manchester United in the month of December, including matches against Paris Saint-Germain, Leipzig, Manchester City, Leeds United, Leicester City and Wolves, Solskjaer will have to ensure the midfield department is rotated effectively to avoid any problems with fatigue or issues with injuries. On that note, van de Beek is surely expected to receive enough game time and appearances, in order to prove himself to the manager and to his critics.

Following his impressive performances recently at home to Istanbul Basaksehir and now away at Southampton, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that the central midfield can build on from this and continue to establish a strong combination with his midfield team-mates in Bruno Fernandes and Fred. And if he is able to help the team on both sides of the pitch, it would not be a surprise to see Pogba leaving in the January window, who has been linked with both Juventus and Real Madrid.

Given that both Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have had major problems in breaking down the opposition’s low blocks in the past, they finally have a midfielder other than Bruno Fernandes available to them, in van de Beek, who is capable of overcoming pressure on and off the ball and is adaptable to making the necessary interception or tackle.

Overall, it is too early for the critics and for the English media to write off a player like Donny van de Beek, who has been slowly eased into the club and into the line-up as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had some difficulties in finding the right balance and consistency in midfield. Once the 23-year-old hits the ground running and is a regular starter for the side, the only way is up for all parties involved.

Man Utd: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men complete a vintage comeback away at Southampton

Ahead of gameweek ten, one of the key fixtures of the weekend was between Ralph Hassenhuttl’s Southampton and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, with the former being on top notch form so far this season whilst the latter have been inconsistent on both sides of the pitch.

Going into the game, both teams were missing some key players as the Saints were without the goal-scoring machine in Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond, meanwhile, the Red Devils were missing the presence of Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba. Putting the list of injuries to aside, the two sides were still able to play to the best of their ability and managed to create a number of chances.

Looking at the fixture as a whole, the Red Devils edged it out in possession and completed just under 100 passes in the final third of the pitch, proving to be quick and effective on the ball and especially on the counter-attack. Though, for Southampton, they were unable to produce a single big chance throughout the whole game and were only able to achieve 41 passes in the attacking third.

Overall, the three points for the visitors, allow Manchester United to move into the top half of the league table and into eight place. On the other hand, Southampton remain in fifth place, but could drop down a spot, should either Aston Villa or West Ham win their fixture on Monday night.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league game…

Manchester United’s issues in defending set-pieces continue

Manchester United have conceded 16 goals in nine league games so far this season, with a large number of the goals being conceded very easily and softly by the side’s backline. Both of Southampton’s goals today could have been avoidable, especially the first one, where Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic were marking the area/zone whilst Marcus Rashford was left to mark Jan Bednarek, who had rose above the attacker and headed the ball back into the net.

And with Southampton’s second goal of the afternoon, it was an unnecessary foul from Fred that led to a free-kick in a dangerous area, just outside of the penalty box. James Ward-Prowse went on to take the free-kick and place it into the corner of the net, as he always does, leaving David De Gea with no chance of preventing the goal. As United’s goal difference currently stands on zero, they will have to improve on it instantly, in order to increase their chances of finishing in the top four.

Edinson Cavani comes on from the bench with the perfect influence

The Red Devils felt hopeless and majority of the players’ heads had dropped totally by the half-time break, as they typically failed to take their chances whilst Southampton proved to be ruthless through the set-piece routine. However, on came Edinson Cavani just after the half-time break, who completely changed the game around with his defensive work rate, movement on and off the ball as well as his immaculate ability to linkup with teammates from time to time.

The Uruguayan international achieved two goals and one assist from the bench, which is more than incredible for a player that was written off early in the start of the season and was regarded as another Alexis Sancez or Radamel Falcao, who had previously flopped during their time at Old Trafford. With his valuable experience and hunger for goals and success, the 33-year-old will certainly be playing a crucial for the team in the Premier League and in the Champions League.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have found the right balance in the midfield area

It’s been just under two months since the embarrassing 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur, and it seems like both Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been able to turn a new page and resume normal service in the Premier League. Since then, the team have proceeded to defend aggressively, score more frequently and continue to grind out the victories.

For sure, the goals are still being conceded and the goal difference should be much better, but there is a huge feeling that the Red Devils are about to go on a good run and that is mainly down to the balance that has been found in the middle of the pitch. With the diamond formation which consists of Nemanja Matic as the holding midfielder, Donny Van de Beek and Fred as the number eights and Bruno Fernandes in the number ten role, both the club and manager have now found their mojo.

Man Utd: Three key battles to look out for ahead of the West Brom fixture

As the international break finally comes to an end, normal services in domestic football, with Manchester United taking on West Brom in the Saturday evening fixture at Old Trafford.

Given that the side are yet to win a league game so far this season at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will have to be at their very best, on and off the ball, in order to turn their unexplainable form at home around. On the other hand, the Baggies will be aiming to make improvement on both sides of the pitch, as they have not claimed a single victory this term.

On paper, the host have too much quality in midfield and attack for the visitors to handle, though, with the number of surprises that have risen in recent months, anything is possible within Premier League football. If Slaven Bilic’s West Brom are able to keep United’s attack limited and prove to be ruthless on the counter, then there is a chance of them walking away with at least a point.

With no further ado, here are the three key battles to look out for at Old Trafford this evening…

Marcus Rashford vs Darnell Furlong

With two goals and three assists to his name in seven league appearances, Marcus Rashford will be aiming to improve on his consistency and efficiency in the final third as the pundits and the Manchester United supporters are expecting him to reach 20 league goals by the end of the campaign. When looking at his burst of pace, movement with and without the ball as well as his confidence in front of goal, the target of scoring 20 league goals is definitely achievable for Rashford.

Rashford will be in for a close and tight encounter with Darnell Furlong, who is West Brom’s regular option at right-back and is more than capable of being a crucial player on both sides of the pitch. When comparing Furlong to the other full-backs in the league, only Andrew Roberton and Tariq Lamptey have had more touches than the right-back in the opposition’s box. However, his key duty is to nullify the threat that Rashford provides before he can proceed to being a threat himself.

Callum Robinson vs Harry Maguire

Scoring only 6 goals in eight league fixtures, West Brom do not possess many talented attacking players, but they will be highly depending on Callum Robinson, who will be looking to get in between the lines of the central defence. As his two league goals so far, this season have come at home to Chelsea, the 25-year-old Irish international certainly has the confidence to score against big teams.

Although the Red Devils are expected to dominate majority of the possession at Old Trafford, if the Baggies are still able to create a few chances on the counter or through the set-piece method into the feet of Callum Robinson, then it is more than possible for the attacker to walk away with a goal or two. He will be up against captain Harry Maguire, who will be looking to get back to his best and to his normal self, especially after the personal experience he has had on and off the football pitch.

Bruno Fernandes vs Jake Livermore

Given the huge number of midfield options that Solskjaer has available, as well as Donny Van de Beek and Paul Pogba being a choice from the bench, it will be Bruno Fernandes who will be leading the midfield and will be connecting the dots from midfield to attack. Considered as Manchester United’s best and important player in the starting line-up, the side’s attack and creativity runs through the Portuguese international, who will be looking to continue to provide the goods.

Meanwhile for West Brom, Jake Livermore is expected to play the lone defensive-midfield role, where he will be sitting in front of the defence, providing the balance and stability to the midfield. The 31-year-old will be hoping to keep Fernandes as quiet as possible, and will be aiming to help the team through his leadership, range of passing and most importantly, his Premier League experience.

Man Utd: Three things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must do to steer the ship into the right direction

With how the season is so far panning out for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the questions are starting to be raised on which direction and which way is the football club heading. Although it’s only been two months into the 2020-21 campaign, the Red Devils have shown huge inconsistencies and weaknesses in the Premier League and the Champions League, proving that it is going to be another long season where there is no certainty of trophies and actual dominance.

For sure, the season so far in English football has been involved with many ups and downs, including the early rise of Aston Villa and Southampton as well as the unexpected downfall of both Manchester City and Manchester United. Most importantly, the key stage of the campaign will be from the first fixture after the international break up until the final match of the year, where a large number of games will be played in a short period, causing players to suffer from fatigue or injuries.

Focusing further on Solskjaer, who has a lot of critics and doubts on his name in recent months, he would have wanted these two weeks of international break more than anyone else, in order to review and amend his tactics, style of play and the way he wants to utilise the squad to full effect.

With no further ado, here are three things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer HAS to do…

Have an actual plan against the weaker teams

The Red Devils have always been known for playing with an attacking mindset and by constantly  being dominant down the flanks. However, given the side’s vulnerabilities in defence, they are unable to play in the same manner the Old Trafford faithful has been used to. Under Solskjaer, the side are playing more on the counter-attack method or through individual brilliance, which is something that has proven to be unsustainable as the side fail to stroll pass the lower teams.

Although the coach has shown his personnel tactics are effective and impressive in the big fixtures in recent years, he has to remember and understand, that there are ten key matches he is prepared for throughout the campaign, whilst there are another 28 league games he does not have an actual plan or system for. And the key factor here is, without the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford in the starting line-up, the team are unable to click together and no one is willing to lead efficiently.

The midfield selection has to be consistent and correct

Since taking over as the permanent manager of Manchester United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has failed to identify and recognise what his best midfield selection is. When looking at the main teams in Liverpool and Manchester City, there is a huge understanding of what their best midfield is, as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have respectively been able to make this clear in a matter of months. Until Solskjaer completes this, the side will continue to face difficulties on both sides of the pitch, given that the lack of balance and consistency is importantly being missed out in midfield.

With the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Donny Van de Beek, Fred, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay available, there cannot be no excuses that there is a lack of depth or quality within the midfield department. Looking at the current options in midfield, the ideal midfield trio would happen to be Bruno Fernandes, Van de Beek and Matic, which should provide the perfect mixture of creativity, experience, movement, energy and intelligence when defending and attacking.

To keep the love and support for Mason Greenwood at a high level

For sure, he is currently within the headlines of the English media outlet and not for the right reasons, but Mason Greenwood will surpass this difficult phase soon or later, and he will be back to doing what he is does best, which is running aggressively at defenders and scoring all different types of goals. Before this happens again, Solskjaer has a huge job on his hands, in order to continue to guide and support the youngster, who is going through a rough period at the age of 19-years-old.

Focusing more onto what he is capable of on the pitch, Greenwood is regarded as the most clinical forward within the squad, a statement that should not be taken lightly as the team has the likes of Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford. With his ability to play with the ball at both feet, his sharp movement in the final third of the pitch and his influential instincts at striking the ball towards goal, he simply has it all to become a world class player if he can keep his head down.

Man Utd: The ongoing and unfortunate situation of youngster Mason Greenwood

Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood is going through a difficult phase in his career at the age of 19-years-old, where his name is all over the English media for the wrong reasons. From breaching the Coronavirus rules by meeting women in the hotel bedroom during the international break to apparently having attitude problems and arriving late to training, it has all been mentioned.

A few months ago, the youngster was regarded as a generational talent and someone that could be a crucial and influential player for club and country. With his movement on and off the ball, and the ability to play so comfortably with both feet and his incredible finishing in the final third, the rising star from Bradford simply has it all to go on to becoming the real deal for the next five to ten years.

However, the situation has now unfortunately changed for Greenwood, where a blunder he made on international break with team-mate, Phil Foden, has given the English press a free pass on constantly mentioning him in relation to any errors or mistakes he has made. For somewhat reason, Foden has received minimal criticism compared to Greenwood, despite the former being the individual who caused the issue in Iceland by asking two women to come to the hotel bedroom.

Since the event occurred in September, the Manchester United forward has made further headlines in the English media, where it’s stated he has; arrived late to training, been involved in an argument in training with Bruno Fernandes and has been regarded as a lazy player during training. Despite the remarks that have been made, Greenwood has constantly been backed up by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, someone who has always wanted the media limelight to be away from the youngster.

Now, the main critic has to be mentioned, in other words, the English media/press, who are never writing about the good and positive stuff about footballers, but more about the errors and mistakes they make as well as about their lifestyle outside of football. Most importantly, the players that are being targeted by the media happen to be Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and now Mason Greenwood, black English footballers who are on the verge of making a huge name for themselves.

When comparing the English press to the other media outlets in Europe, the former are becoming well known for building and hyping up the players only to bring them down instantly and constantly chasing after them on their off the pitch lifestyle. Meanwhile, the latter in countries such as France, Germany and Spain, they may have the odd negative story about a certain individual or player, but they do not turn the situation into an agenda or witch hunt against them, unlike the English media.

Not only that, the English media/press only like to show one side of the story or one side of the player, as they have completely ignored the fact that the 19-year-old is mourning the death of close friend, Jeremy Wisten, who had reportedly committed suicide days after being released by Manchester City. Despite the tough period he has gone through and is currently going through, there has not been one single bit of support and sympathy from English newspapers such as Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and the Telegraph, to look out for his emotions, feelings and thoughts.

Overall, the most important thing for Mason Greenwood is, to absolutely ignore the atrocious and unacceptable comments made by the English media, whilst always remembering that he has the much needed support of his family, friends, the players and staff at Manchester United football club and the Manchester United supporters around the whole world. The youngster will surely get past this difficult phase and go onto becoming the world class player that he is destined to become.

Everton 1-3 Man Utd: The Red Devils pick up the crucial victory away at Goodison Park

Ahead of gameweek eight, one of the key fixtures of the weekend was between Everton and Manchester United, with the former looking to get back to winning ways and for the latter, a lot of rumours were being reported of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job being on the line should he lose another league fixture.

The hosts were dominating possession and were getting into good areas in the opposition’s half, however, they were unable to be effective and productive in the final third as they created no big chances and had only one shot on target. On the other hand, the visitors were composed defensively and were ruthless on the counter attack, something they have proven to be time and time again.

Looking at the match as a whole, Everton had much more time on the ball than Manchester United, especially in the second half, but did not have the intelligence or the much needed hunger to go and grab a late equaliser. United were able to get the job done and pick up the three crucial points thanks to the performances of Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Harry Maguire, who were top notch from start to beginning and were not showing any signs of weaknesses or poor individual moments.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men took the lead in the 19th minute of the game through Bernard, whose shot on goal went through the legs of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and had beaten David De Gea at the front post. It was a really poor goal to concede from a United point of view, considering that the build up to the goal was a long ball from Jordan Pickford, followed by Dominic Calvert Lewin winning the aerial duel against Victor Lindelof, leading the ball to enter the path of Bernard, before he went on to score.

Everton’s lead was cancelled out in a matter of minutes, as United began to play the ball around at a high tempo and were moving effectively on and off the ball. In the 25th minute, Luke Shaw’s perfect cross from the left flank was met by the head of Bruno Fernandes, who headed the ball into the far corner of the net, leaving Pickford with absolutely no chance to prevent the goal from happening.

United continued to pile on the pressure and went on to testing the defensive qualities of Everton, which proved to be inconsistent and unorganised, as Bruno Fernandes was able to get his second goal of the game with a cross that had missed the head of Marcus Rashford, hitting the inside of the far post and going into the back of net. And just like that, the Red Devils had turnaround the score line and were able to have the game under the belt as they reached the half time break.

In the second half, there was not much action or key moments for either sides as both teams had failed to get into the final third of the pitch consistently. United were content with their pragmatic approach and were satisfied with Everton have majority of the possession, with James Rodriguez not being able to be the game changer and the Toffees clearly missing the presence of Richarlison.

Solskjaer’s men went on to sealing the definite victory in the final moments of the game, as Manchester United were able to break on the counter through Bruno Fernandes, who had Edinson Cavani on the left and Marcus Rashford on the right, the Portuguese international passed the ball into the feet of the former, who went on to scoring his first ever Premier League goal.

In the end, Manchester United’s victory allows them to move up to 13th place and for Everton, they drop down to seventh place following the wins for the likes of Chelsea, Spurs and Southampton.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Bruno Fernandes continues to produce the important goods

Although his performances have not continued from the high level he produced towards the end of the 2019/20 season, Bruno Fernandes is still producing the important goods in the final third of the pitch through his goals and assists. When it comes to a player like the 26-year-old, he’s a high risk player, in terms of the passes and chances he tries to create, which tends to lead to a high reward.

Bruno Fernandes is currently on five goals and three goals in seven league appearances, and with the current form he is on, it should not be a total surprise to see him reach in double figures at least, for goals and assists, before the season comes to an end. With many people doubting him and strongly suggesting he relies on free-kicks and penalties, he has silenced the critics by scoring two goals and producing an assist which was not from a dead ball phase or from the penalty spot.

The Red Devils’ form away from home has been quite incredible

For sure, Manchester United’s form at Old Trafford has been diabolical and embarrassing, especially for a football club that should be challenging for the league title and be finishing in the top four convincingly. However, their form away from home has been top notch, where they have picked up nine points out of a potential nine, scoring on 10 occasions and conceding just the four times.

The Red Devils’ previous issues had happened to be the performances and the results they were achieving away from home, but this has now experienced a turnaround, as the side have shown to be dangerous on the counter-attack with the intelligence, movement and pace they have from the main attackers. All that is left now, is for the team to start performing dominantly and picking up consistent victories at Old Trafford, in order to allow them to finish high up the table as possible.

Manchester United’s issues defensively are still seen as a problem

Not much will be mentioned about United’s ongoing defensive issues as they had comfortably beaten Everton away from home, but the questions have to be raised on how easily Everton were able to score their goal. Given the backline lacking the aggression and showing many weaknesses, it’s one of the reasons to why Solskjaer had to play a midfield pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay, who are both holding midfielders and are able to allow Bruno Fernandes to play with freedom.

With Luke Shaw going off with a hamstring injury, the side may have some issues at left-back and it is unsure of what Alex Telles is capable of doing in the Premier League. On the other hand, the return of the international break could be seen as a blessing in disguise, which will allow both Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford to recover from the minor knocks they had suffered from the game and it will also allow Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to review the side’s defensive issues and how to overcome them.

Man Utd: Three Leipzig players to look out for ahead of the Champions League fixture at Old Trafford

After beating Paris Saint-Germain comfortably in the first game of the Champions League group stage last week, Manchester United will now host Leipzig at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. Despite the side’s inconsistencies in the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men and their style of play is more suited in Europe, especially with how they’ve setup recently within a 3-4-1-2 system.

With the Bundesliga side travelling to Manchester without the likes of Amadaou Haidara, Konrad Laimer, Lukas Klostermann and Nordi Mukiele, Julian Nagelsmann will be looking to show off his tactical flexibility and versatility, something that he is being well known for at a young age. Due to the 33-year-old’s intelligence and adaptation, the team are yet to suffer a defeat so far this season.

Leipzig’s project is one of the most exciting things in Europe, where many football supporters are expecting them to reach the levels of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. This can potentially happen, especially with the important assistance of Dietrich Mateschitz, who is an Austrian billionaire businessman and is the co-founder and 49% owner of the energy drink company Red Bull.

With no further ado, here are the three key Leipzig players to look out for tomorrow…

Dayot Upamecano – Centre back

Majority of Manchester United fans will already be aware of centre-back, Dayot Upamecano, who was constantly linked with a move to England in recent months by the English and German media. The French international is regarded as a key individual within the Leipzig backline, having become a regular starter for the side in recent years and is now seen as one of the best defenders in Germany.

With his strength, ability to read the game and burst of pace, the 22-year-old has the skillset and the potential to go onto become one of the best centre-backs in Europe. On Wednesday evening, he will be put to a huge test, facing the likes of Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, who have proven to be deadly on the counter through their movement, positioning and dribbling.

Dani Olmo – Attacking midfielder 

Since joining Leipzig in January 2020, Dani Olmo has been able to take his abilities and performances up a notch under Julian Nagelsmann, who has been carefully developing and improving the player week by week. Whether he is utilised in the number ten role or as an inside forward, Olmo is able to make an impact through his one-on-one dribbling as well as his intelligence to work in tight areas.

Olmo has surprised a number of people with his finishing and his shooting from long distance, as he has a tendency to use the inside of his right foot to achieve the right power and placement of the ball. Not only that, the midfielder links up effectively with the lone forward along with the wide players, allowing him to be seen as an unpredictable and difficult player to read by the opposition.

Yussuf Poulsen – Centre forward

Although he is no longer playing up front with Timo Werner, who had left Leipzig for Chelsea in the summer, Yussuf Poulsen is relishing the lone forward role in the 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-2-1 system. So far this season, he has completed two goals and one assist in four league appearances and will be looking to open his account in Europe shortly, as he will be up against both Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

The Danish international is commonly known for his ability to win aerial duels as well as be a huge nuisance in the penalty box, as long as the crosses are placed correctly in the dangerous areas by the likes of Angelino, Christopher Nkunku and Dani Olmo. If the creativity and service is there for Poulsen to latch onto, then there should be no doubts in him causing a number of problems to Manchester United’s backline, as they have been under the scrutiny for poor defending and organisation.

Man Utd 0-0 Chelsea: The Red Devils fail to overcome the Blues at Old Trafford

Going into gameweek six, one of the crucial fixtures of the weekend was between Manchester United and Chelsea on Saturday evening, where both teams intended on collecting the vital victory to move closer to the top four positions. Given the shocking start to the campaign, not many Premier League fans were expecting Everton and Aston Villa to be in the top four spots, whilst the well-known clubs such as Man City, Man Utd and Spurs sit in the middle of the league table.

Looking at the match as a whole, both sides were unconvincing in the middle of the park and could not complete a string of passes, which led to very minimal chances being created and not many passes into the final third. Not only that, but with Frank Lampard’s 3-4-1-2 setup and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s unappealing line-up selection, it meant that there would not be many goals in the game.

In terms of the key statistics of the game, neither team had the key edge of dominating the possession of the ball, so it was equally shared out by both sides. Chelsea and Manchester United failed to create a single big chance through the game, which would be more down to how reserved and limited they wanted to play, ensuring that they did not concede to any chances or many goals.

To sum up the first half showing from the two clubs, the main positive was that the half-time break had arrived and hopefully one of the sides would step up on the intensity and urge to attack in the second half. However, that was not the case until the 58th minute for the host team and the 71st minute for the visitors, where a double change was required to help the team to create and score.

In the end, neither of the teams were able to make a breakthrough and were able succeed on coming out as the winners, leading to a point being shared out by Manchester United and Chelsea. The Blues walk away from Old Trafford with a positive point, on the other hand, the Red Devils would be in total discontent, as they are yet to win a single league game at home so far this season.

With no further ado, here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s line-up selection raised a few questions

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded the same eleven players that had defeated Newcastle last weekend against Chelsea, which raised a number of questions from the Old Trafford faithful as the line-up did not provide enough satisfaction in order to pick up the much needed three points. With the likes of Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba not being selected in the starting XI, majority of the Manchester United supporters had felt that the coach had setup with quite a pragmatic approach.

On the other hand, with a lot of key fixtures coming up, against Leipzig, Arsenal, Istanbul Basaksehir, Everton and West Brom over the next few weeks, it may seem like a sensible move from Solskjaer to rotate around and to ensure the squad do not suffer from fatigue or injury issues. With that in mind, the 47-year-old coach has to understand that he has to go into every game with the intention of wining and achieving consistent victories, with the objective being clear from the starting line-up.

Daniel James should no longer be starting on a regular basis 

With Anthony Martial still suspended for the league fixtures and Edinson Cavani being slowly integrated into the team, Daniel James continues to remain in the starting line-up, someone who is not able to offer much to the side besides his burst of pace and work rate off the ball. Other than that, he lacks the intelligence in the final third and the end product in terms of goals and assists.

Against Chelsea, the Welsh winger hardly made an impact out on the left wing, where he was completely isolated by both Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James. Although he came into the club as a squad player, Solskjaer has used him as a regular starter following his bright and impressive start to the 2019/20 campaign, which led to him achieving three goals and six assists in 33 league appearances. Now, he should be seen as a bench player for the league games and nothing further.

Manchester United’s home form is becoming a huge concern

Despite United’s impressive victory in the midweek, away to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League group stage, they have had many difficulties with winning the games at Old Trafford in the Premier League. So far this season, the side have faced the likes of Crystal Palace, Spurs and now Chelsea, where they have picked up one point out of nine, scoring two goals and conceding nine.

The Red Devils are proving to be deadly and effective on the counter-attack, however, the team and the manager will need ways to break down the opposition and create constant chances, or they will fail to pick up victories on a regular basis at home. And if that happens to be the case, Manchester United’s chances of finishing in the top four by the end of the campaign, will be very limited.

Brighton 2-3 Man Utd: The Red Devils win the game in the final moment from a Bruno Fernandes penalty

Following the shocking defeat at home to Crystal Palace to start off the new Premier League season, Manchester United were intending on returning to winning ways as they travelled away to Brighton & Hove Albion, who are predicted to have an exciting campaign under the reigns of Graham Potter.

The hosts were dominating the match and were constantly in the opposition’s half, where the movement and pace of Brighton’s wing-backs along with the front three were proving to be too much for the United defence to handle. Not only that, but the Seagulls deserved at least a draw from the game, as they were denied three penalties, as well as the by crossbar and post on five occasions.

Looking at the game as a whole, Brighton had surprisingly experienced more time in possession of the ball, achieving just over 53% of the possession, whilst creating 13 chances throughout the whole game with three of them being big chances. Meanwhile, for United, they had only managed 60 passes in the final third, with eight passes in the penalty box and just one big chance being created.

Graham Potter’s men took the lead from the penalty spot in the 40th minute of the game, through Neal Maupay, as Bruno Fernandes was penalised for bring Tariq Lamptey down in the box. However, the home side’s lead was cancelled out in a matter of minutes, with Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick into the far corner of the box was met by the perfect touch from Nemanja Matic to return it into the danger area, which led to centre-back Lewis Dunk accidentally hitting the ball into his own net.

After the half-time break, the situation between both sides had remained the same, where the visitors were lacking the aggression and intensity to keep the home team contained and isolated. Despite Brighton’s missed chances and inconsistent end product, United were able to pounce effectively on the counter, as Bruno Fernandes was able to set Marcus Rashford through on goal, who had perfectly cut in and out on Ben White before smashing the ball into the back of the goal.

The last 10 to 15 minutes of the game was the main highlight of the fixture. Brighton continued to constantly attack United around the penalty box, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with no option but to move to a defensive stance, as Eric Bailly and Fred came on from the bench for Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba. On the other hand, Graham Potter had to change the game around and went all out with the attacking options, as both Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Pascal Gross entered the pitch.

Brighton were able to pick up a last-minute equaliser through Solly March, who was a very busy player down the left flank and was causing problems for Aaron Wan-Bissaka time after time. Though, eight minutes into stoppage time, Maupay handled the ball in his own penalty box when trying to block the headed attempted from Harry Maguire, which resulted in a crucial penalty for the visitors, leading to Bruno Fernandes scoring from the spot to give his side the much needed three points.

The situation was controversial, given that the referee had blown the whistle for full time, with the Brighton players believing they have earned the crucial point that they deserved. However, the United team complained instantly, meaning that the referee had to do his job and refer to the replay of the incident in the penalty box, which resulted in the match being called back for the penalty.

Overall, Graham Potter and his men will be absolutely gutted that they could not pick up a point. And for a United point of view, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will surely be concerned about the side’s fitness and performance as a whole, but will be content with picking up their first league victory of the season. On that note, The Red Devils sit in 14th place whilst the Seagulls remain above them in 12th place.

 

Man Utd 1-3 Crystal Palace: The Red Devils begin the new season with a defeat at home to the Eagles

Manchester United begin their 2020-21 Premier League season with a defeat at home to Crystal Palace, who were a unit defensively, composed in defending within their own half and were impressive on the counter against a very poor backline.

Given the lack of rest that the Red Devils have had from the previous campaign, as they reached the Europa League semi-finals before being eliminated by Sevilla, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men have not had the necessary rest and ideal pre-season football in order to return to normal fitness levels.

Looking into the game as a whole, the hosts were in full control when it came to dominating possession of the ball, achieving 75% possession, creating two big chances during the match and completing 230 passes in the attacking third. On the other hand, the hosts managed only 43 successful passes in the final third, and still went onto scoring three goals throughout the game.

The Eagles took the lead in the 7th minute of the game, through Andros Townsend, who had beaten Luke Shaw at the far post to meet onto Jeffrey Schlupp’s low cross, and put it past David De Gea and into the back of the net. In all honesty, there was not much action following Townsend’s goal, as United were sloppy and slow on the ball whilst Palace were quite comfortable within a low-block.

Crystal Palace were giving a huge opportunity to double their lead just half way through the second half, as Martin Atkinson pointed to the penalty spot after reviewing the footage of Victor Lindelof handling the ball in the box. Wilfried Zaha stepped up and calmly slotted the ball from the spot.

United were able to get a goal back through Donny Van de Beek, who able to convert his attempt on goal after coming on from the bench for Paul Pogba. However, it was too late to attempt a potential comeback, as Zaha was able to outdo Lindelof and place his shot into the corner away from De Gea. Following the 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace, Manchester United are currently in 15th place whilst Roy Hodgson’s men sit comfortably in 5th place, winning their first two games of the season.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s first league fixture of the campaign…

Victor Lindelof continually proves to be a defensive liability

For sure, he wasn’t the only individual that was struggling and was absolutely poor from start to end, but it was the defensive mistakes produced by Victor Lindelof that had resulted in Crystal Palace walking away from Old Trafford with the three points. The Swedish international has shown time and time again, that he is unable to deal with one on one situations with a forward or a winger, as the latter are able to dribble, power and stride past the centre-back without any serious issues.

Lindelof has had this rising problem since he had moved to the Premier League a few years ago, and it’s a concerning weakness that has allowed the opposition to specifically target him on the counter-attack. Given the current situation that is presented to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was to drop Lindelof to the bench anytime soon and replace him with Eric Bailly, who is more dominant and complete, but is battling his own issues in terms of injuries and full fitness.

Nemanja Matic’s absence was costly for the team on and off the ball

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded a three-man midfield of Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, which was lacking the much-needed balance in front of the defence and the ability to win the ball high up the pitch. Without Nemanja Matic, who had returned to training only on Monday and was not prepared to play on Saturday at Old Trafford, the side had great difficulties at protecting the inconsistent backline, being fluid on the ball and remaining calm under pressure.

The 32-year-old may no longer be at his best or have the legs to cover enough area of the pitch, however, his invaluable experience and the balance and composure he brings to the midfield is second to none. Unfortunately, for the manager and the club, they do not have a similar player to Matic, which does mean that they will have to rely heavily on him once again this season.

The lack of business for Manchester United is starting to slowly hurt them

Manchester United have only made one signing so far this window, in Donny Van de Beek, which is not good enough when you are trying to finish in the top four in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Not only that, but the board have failed to deliver a left-back and a much needed right-winger, two areas that needed addressing urgently and have not been done so in recent years, resulting in the side’s lack of development and progress as a whole.

The likes of Everton, Spurs and Wolves have been very proactive in the window, and it would not be a total surprise to see either of these three teams finish above the Red Devils in the Premier League. Unless Ed Woodward, the Glazers and the other key individuals within the board make some drastic signings in the final weeks of the transfer window, it will be very difficult for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United to finish in the top four again, looking at the serious competition around them.