It has been a few difficult months for José Mourinho’s team, but their performance against high-flying Arsenal struck a chord with the Manchester United fans that had been missing for some time.
There was passion and commitment shown by the players, plus entertainment. There wasn’t a ridiculously high amount of quality on offer by both teams, but the intensity that has been lacking in the Premier League was present.
Here are a few talking points from United’s latest fixture moving forward:
Diogo Dalot’s starting debut
The young Portuguese right back made his first start for Manchester United in the Premier League against Arsenal, in which there were mixed reviews.
Dalot impressed with his runs down the right flank, trying to take on players and get the ball into the box. The one attribute that clearly sticks out is his ability to successfully beat his first man with the cross – something United fans have forgotten existed.
The former Porto starlet was caught out throughout the match from his more experienced counterpart Sead Kolasinac, but Dalot stood his ground and recovered. There is certainly a lot more to come, but against top opposition who were 19 games unbeaten, Dalot made a good account of himself to the Old Trafford crowd.
Dalot is only 19-years-old and will improve with every game he plays in. Mourinho must stick with him and allow him to develop in the Premier League. The signs are promising.
Marcos Rojo gives United bite
It seems as if Marcos Rojo features more on the injury table than he does for Manchester United in recent seasons, but the Argentinean defender did make a rare appearance against Arsenal to mark this week’s comeback.
Rojo is an impulse defender and one for taking risks, most of them not being calculated. Although he was caught off guard that gifted Arsenal the lead in the second half, Rojo provided United with a bit of bite that has been badly missed.
The central defender’s performance was topsy-turvy, as they usually are, but at least he gives the team some sense of commitment and urgency to get up the pitch. His tackling is as absurd as he is, but Rojo was welcomed back by the Man United faithful.
Eric Bailly should not be left out
If there was one talking point after the fixture against the Gunners, it was the fact that Eric Bailly had been needlessly rotting on the sidelines for far too long. Most fans can recognise Bailly’s importance to the team, but it took Mourinho more than enough time to come to the same conclusion.
The Ivory Coast international, even with months on the bench, slotted right back into the first-team and made some crucial interceptions. He kept Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang largely at bay for the 90 minutes, which was no easy task given the Gabonese is the league’s leading goalscorer.
Mourinho simply has to involved Bailly in future games. While fans are not privy to what goes on behind closed doors, and there might have been issues in the past, the Portuguese manager simply has to put those inconsistencies behind him and allow his best defender to do his job.
Anthony Martial strikes again
The Frenchman has come to Manchester United’s rescue on more than one occasion this season. His seven goals in the Premier League have helped the Red Devils retain some sort of dignity, although his teammates aren’t pulling their weight in comparison.
Martial’s form continues to grow and he now has a scoring return rate of 122 minutes per-goal in the league – better than the likes of Sergio Agüero, Harry Kane and Aubameyang.
Without Martial’s goals, United would be in an even direr state of affairs compared to where they are now. This weekend, against Fulham, United have the chance to put on a show for the United crowd and should do so against the lowest-ranked team in the division.
Through Martial, United have a forward player that is so confident with the ball at his feet. The Frenchman dazzles past defenders and has the agility to shift his body weight and deceive his opposition.
The Red Devils simply must get Martial in the game and allow the France international to do what he does best: score.