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.