Why Manchester United could have a nightmare start to the Premier League in 2020/21

There has been a clear pattern with Manchester United since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the club in December 2018, the Red Devils are either brilliant or poor. There’s been no in between and maybe that has cost the club a trophy or an extra league position.

The Norwegian manager and United great currently has a 54% win rate with the club, which is very decent. Jose Mourinho who Solskjaer replaced had a 58% win rate. So there is certainly room for improvement. However the way United finished last season left everyone slack jawed. It was a fantastic run that saw the club not only qualify for the Champions League but leap frog Chelsea and finish 3rd.

However new season and perhaps a new United. The club at home in their first game lost against Crystal Palace 3-1. The score felt like a big loss for the club, this was a game that was supposed to be made simple, they have the players and yet all that goal scoring talent in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes could not pull them back into the game. True they did have 17 attempts on goal but only 4 shots on target at home is not good enough. Palace finished with more shots on target and the first surprise result of the season had been sealed.

United fans will be hoping that it is a one off and that the club will win their next few games and be able to move on. But that isn’t how Solskjaer teams have worked up until now. A blip quickly turns into a few games. Now when we look at the clubs upcoming fixture list it isn’t going to be an easy ride for them.

This weekend United will play Brighton who, like last season have started brightly. Even when they lost against Chelsea many observers said that they were the better team. Graham Potter’s side made amends with the defeat against the Blues by beating Newcastle away from home 3-0. That was a statement win and the club will be up for producing another upset.

After that game United will face the likes of Tottenham, Newcastle, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton. Many tricky ties in there plus the beginning of the Champions League will kick off in October adding further games and travel for the club.

Could it be that United will start the campaign off poorly and lose touch to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City so early on that they will have no touching distance and chance of a league challenge?

Of course it is still early days but their fixtures do not look to have piled up well for the club. History says they will come good, but only after they have gone through the ‘Ole’ struggle once again.

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Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United: The Red Devils pick up the victory in an unconvincing manner

Following the side’s 2-2 stalemate on Monday night at Old Trafford against Southampton, Manchester United had to ensure they picked up the much needed victory away at Crystal Palace, to keep their top four hopes alive after Chelsea and Leicester City had won their respective games.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men went on to exactly do that, despite the unconvincing and sloppy performances from many of the individuals. At the end of the day, at this late stage of the season, all that counts is the results that the team achieve as a whole rather than any inconsistent displays.

Overall, the visitors dominated the game for majority of the match and were the ones who were the most effective on the attacking side of the game, as they went on to achieve 60% possession of the ball and 121 passes in the attacking third compared to Crystal Palace’s 93 successful passes in the final third. However, the host enjoyed a small period of possession from time to time, but were lacking the required creativity and end product to go on to causing further problems for United.

In the end, United’s pure quality and individual class from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were able to guide the team to a victory, allow them to remain in fifth position, and most importantly on the same amount of points as Leicester and one point behind Chelsea. On the other hand, for the Eagles, they stay in 14th place and with enough comfort above the relegation zone.

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

Solskjaer’s front three continue to produce the goods

Ahead of the match, the questions and opinions were circulating around social media and between the pundits, on whether United’s attackers are able to sustain their quality and threat for the remainder of the season or not. Both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford went on to show their intelligence and sheer brilliance in front of goal, as they have each contributed to more than 20 Premier League goals this season through goals and assists, showing how much, they have improved.

The duo have been more than incredible this campaign, proving they a lot to offer to the team more than their end product, as the pair have shown enough movement, creativity and work rate on to keep the critics silence. If Martial and Rashford are able to show this consistency for another season or two, then they can settle themselves to be seen as one of the best players in the Premier League.

The Red Devils away form has improved in huge numbers

For sure, the fixtures at home and the games away to another team may not seem as a big difference to one another at the moment, given the current situation of the Corona Virus and the fact that football supporters are not able to attend the stadium to encourage and inspire their beloved club. However, it does not change the fact that United’s away form has had a massive turnaround, where they’ve been able to pick up 11 points out of 15 in their last five away games.

And just before the side’s last five away games, United were only able to pick up 15 points from 13 away games of this season, which is simply not good enough for a team that wants to finish in the top four let alone for a side that wants to challenge for the league title in the near future. The team now have the sixth best away form in the league, just behind the likes of Southampton and Wolves.

Top four still remains in the hands of Manchester United

After Chelsea and Leicester City had confidently beaten Norwich and Sheffield United, the pressure and tension had simply risen on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United, as nothing less than the three points against Crystal Palace would be acceptable. The Red Devils then went on to produce the goods and pick up the vital victory, even if the performance was too difficult for a neutral to see.

Now, moving forward to the current situation, United have to achieve two important wins in their final two games of the season, which is against West Ham at home and then to Leicester City away. Should the Foxes fail to beat Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, United can confidently finish in the top four by beating West Ham and picking up a point away at King Power stadium. Before then, Ole’s men face a trip to Wembley Stadium to meet Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Best 11 Players in the Premier League: Matchday 22

It was another very interesting weekend of action in the Premier League which saw Liverpool win again and Manchester City finally move into 2nd place after Leicester were beaten. City striker Sergio Aguero made history, what did he do? Read below. And 4th place could be a battle between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Here are the best performing players, did you have any of them?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alisson -Liverpool 

A few goalkeepers got 7 pts which is usually the maximum for matchdays for goalkeepers but our nod goes to Alisson. The reason being is that Liverpool were away to Tottenham- a repeat of last year’s Champions League final and Jose Mourinho was determined to set up his team to beat the Reds. But yet again Liverpool won and kept a clean sheet. Alisson’s 6th of the season and he is in 2nd place in the rankings with 40 points.

Defender: Lucas Digne- Everton

Lucas Digne picked up 7 points as he helped Everton keep a clean sheet as they beat Brighton 1-0 and assisted in Everton’s goal scored by Richarlison for an all round performance. Digne costs 5.5m and has acquired an impressive 20 points so far this season.

Defender: Craig Dawson- Watford

Watford won again, this time beating Bournemouth 3-0. Craig Dawson held his nerve and was part of a defence that kept another clean sheet. He is valued at just 2m and scored some rare points this past weekend.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold- Liverpool

It was another 5 points for the brilliant player. Liverpool’s back four all got the same with 5, but Alexander-Arnold ran more and just seemed to make crunch tackles at the right time, he must be worth a small fortune. In fantasy rankings terms he could be yours for just 7m. He is currently the best defender in the rankings.

Defender: Enda Stevens- Sheffield United

Sheffield United got a 1-0 victory over West Ham, so Enda Stevens kept a clean sheet his 8th of the season as the Blades kept in the top half, looking for a European finish. It was an assured performance from Stevens. He is valued at just 1m and has 37 points already and is one of the best bargains to be had.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez got a massive 10 points at the weekend as he scored a brace for Manchester City and then assisted Sergio Aguero for his hat trick. It was a fantastic performance from the City man. He currently has 52 pts and is valued at 9.5m.

Midfielder: Roberto Firmino- Liverpool

If Liverpool do indeed win the title a lot of it will come down to this wonderful Brazilian- Roberto Firmino. He is in the right place at the right time, scores goals and is just deadly. He earned 6pts as he scored the winner v Tottenham in a very tight game.

Midfielder: Jorginho Frello- Chelsea

Jorginho earned 6pts as Chelsea cruised to a much needed 3-0 win over Burnley at home. Jorginho opened the scoring through a penalty and that set the way for the Blues onto victory. He has earned 16pts and can be yours for 7.5m.

Midfielder: Roberto Pereyra- Watford

As Watford continue to shine and move out of the relegation zone, some of their players are leading that cause and one of them is Roberto Pereyra. The player only came on with 8 minutes of the match to go and scored Watford’s 3rd goal. He earned 6 pts.

Striker: Marcus Rashford- Manchester United

Rashford scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season as Manchester United made light work of Norwich to beat them 4-0. The player has amassed 58 pts in total this season and would cost 7m. He earned 8 pts this week alone.

Striker: Sergio Aguero- Manchester City

So both Manchester teams take up the strikers rankings but there was something very special about Manchester City’s. Sergio Aguero scored a hat trick as Manchester City slaughtered Aston Villa 6-1. The player the broke Alan Shearer’s hat trick record, he now has 12. And in the process he became the best foreign goalscorer ever in the Premier League with 176 goals, surpassing Thierry Henry. Aguero has 13 goals and and earned a whopping 16 pts. He is valued at 14m.

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Man Utd 4-0 Norwich: The Red Devils pick up their first win of 2020 as the Canaries continue to struggle

With Leicester City dropping points in their respective game whilst Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool go head-to-head with one another on Saturday evening in gameweek 22, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways as they faced a Norwich side that currently sit at the bottom of the league and have not win a league game since November.

Going into the afternoon game at Old Trafford, Solskjaer would have anticipated a couple of goals as well as a simple win, despite the side facing a number of problems when it comes to breaking down the mid-table teams. On the other hand, for Daniel Farke, even taking a point away from Old Trafford would have been more than enough, as the Canaries sit rock bottom in the Premier League.

Overall, looking at the game from the first second till the final whistle, the hosts had full control and dominated on and off the ball, going onto creating four big chances, completing six shots on target and most importantly, scoring four goals in a single league match after a long time. Meanwhile, the visitors did not have much good moments at all and would have preferred the match to be over as soon as possible, as they did not have the quality in each department to pick up a result today.

United struggled for small period in the beginning to get to the final third of the pitch and to get past the opposition’s defence. However, they managed to get their first goal of the game just before the 30 minute mark, as Juan Mata came into the middle from the right flank before crossing the ball into the far corner of the post, which was connected by a composed volley from Marcus Rashford.

The side continued to control the game, with some good passage of play through the middle as well as out on the flanks, but did not show the ideal urgency to look for the crucial second goal, in order to put the game to bed before half-time. With just a few moments till the end of the first half, the away side managed to complete their first shot on target through Todd Cantwell, who attempted to pass the ball into the far corner of the net, but his shot was well pushed away by David De Gea.

Following the half-time break, United were on the front foot once again and it did not take them long to get another goal, as they were awarded a penalty, with Rashford stepping up to take it and scoring his second goal of the game and his 14th league goal of the season. The side went on to get to get the third goal in quick succession, as a short corner from the right side was then crossed perfectly by Mata, which was met by the head of Anthony Martial and into the corner of the net.

United’s youngsters continued to show their quality and are become quite the fans favourite, as Brandon Williams had a really great performance in the left-back role and should have ended the match with a goal, whilst Mason Greenwood came on from the bench in the 71st minute and went onto scoring a couple of minutes later with a fine finish to send it past Tim Krul and into the goal.

In the end, the result helps Manchester United to go back to fifth-place on 34 points, being just five points away from fourth-place Chelsea. Meanwhile, Daniel Farke’s Norwich City sit uncomfortably at the bottom of the league on 14 points, as they have only won three league games in 22 matches.

Here are the four valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league game…

Marcus Rashford continues to show his world class quality

It was an amazing day for Marcus Rashford to remember, as he reached his 200 appearance for Manchester United and capped his day off at Old Trafford with a brace and an impressive showing on and off the ball. Given that he is still only 22-years-old, the best is yet to come from him and he is a few years away from his actual peak, making his ongoing development to be seen as a beautiful sight, as the critics and his doubters are starting to look silly as he is proving them all wrong.

It’s only early January at the moment, but he is currently on 14 league goals and is already past his best league tally in a single season, and he could continue to go on to scoring 25 league goals and 40-45 goals in all competitions as long as he stays fit and remains in good condition. With both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku leaving the club in the summer, Rashford has stepped up massively and is more or less showing that he is the clinical forward that the club and manager desperately needs.

Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic produced a fine performance from their good old days

Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic are two experienced individuals who are clearly past their best and do not have the legs to complete consistent displays on a regular basis. However, the duo put up quite the performance against Norwich, with Matic providing the much needed security ahead of the backline and helping the team to recycle the ball effectively in the opposition’s half of the pitch.

And on the attacking side of the match, Mata was able to complete two assists, 82 touches on the ball and a successful pass completion rate of 90.1%, as the Spaniard produced the perfect performance from the number ten role, despite his movement out onto the flanks. As a whole, it was delightful to see Mata and Matic complete a throwback of a display from their good old days.

The Old Trafford faithful have had enough, as they called out on The Glazers and Ed Woodward

As the fixture was game, set and match by the hour mark or so, the home supporters around Old Trafford were united and stood up together to sing out their thoughts and feelings towards the Glazers and Ed Woodward. With the club failing to implement a title challenge in the Premier League or in the Champions League over the last five to six years, the United fans have simply had enough.

Most importantly, they did not show any anger or negativity towards Solskjaer, as in recent years, the United supporters would have preferred to blame the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, who had failed to live up to the club’s expectations and standards. It may not make much difference that the chants were sang out loud for one game, but if it starts to happen on a more daily basis, it will surely be seen as sending a powerful message to the main people in charge.

Is racism growing in the Premier League?

Many people would call the Premier League the best in the world but the league has been hit hard this season and in recent weeks for racist chanting amongst a minority of fans who have spoiled great occasions and overshadowed matches.

In truth it was thought that before the season started that racist chanting was resigned to Eastern European countries and in Serie A in Italy they have also had their fair share with ex Premier League player Mario Balotelli facing the brunt of so called fans’ actions. But it is easy to point at other countries and other fans, less easy to admit that there is a much bigger problem in England and the Premier League than there was first thought.

There have been countless incidents this season and it really does feel that sadly racism is growing in the league. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba was subjected to racism earlier in the season for missing a penalty. Marcus Rashford then came to his defence and he was subjected to the same vile chants. Again at Manchester United a fan had to be ejected for his actions in the massive game against Liverpool seen by millions of people around the world.

In the Manchester derby a fan had to be arrested after his actions towards certain players and the game had to be stopped as a consequence. Most recently in the Tottenham and Chelsea London derby clash the game had to be interrupted no less than three times to remind fans to stop alledged monkey chanting. Some of these seemed to be aimed at Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger although police later said that there was no evidence of an attack on the player. Stlll if true there were plenty of unsavoury moments.

The Premier League has been excellent in leading the charge to kick racism out of the game. A hint of it and actions have been taken and other leagues can still learn from this zero tolerance attitude. But it is still a worry that some fans turn up to the game not to watch it but to vent their hate for another player based on the colour of their skin.

The Premier League has issued statements and will enforce bans and this is very good and the right steps to make. But this season has clearly been a step back into a time that no one wants to remember and a big wake up call that the Premier League has a huge racism issue that perhaps the people running the league did not think was the case before.

The good news is that punishments are being handed out which normally means an arrest and being banned from football for life. But one senses that more education is needed on the topic, it is just sad that we are still talking about divides amongst people in 2020.

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Man Utd vs Everton; three key battles to look out for ahead Sunday’s game at Old Trafford

Ahead of gameweek 17, Manchester United sit in fifth-place and five points away from the top four positions as they take on an Everton side that are looking to turnaround their season with a new coach in Duncan Ferguson. With only seven points separating one side from another, it does sum up how the Premier League has been incredibly competitive and unpredictable so far this season.

For sure, both sides will be playing with a lot energy, movement as well as with pace, as the attacking option that the hosts and visitors have are capable of deciding the outcome of the fixture. The Red Devils will be looking to improve their record at Old Trafford, having picked up 15 points out of a potential 24, whilst the Toffees have won only one game away from home in eight attempts.

It’s time to look at the three vital battles that could help to decide the fate of this fixture and remember to check online sports betting in the US for guidelines on soccer betting and to find legal & licensed sportsbooks.

Marcus Rashford vs Djibril Sidibe

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford just happens to be one of the most inform players and one of the top goal-scorers within the Premier League so far this season, as he continues to pose a dangerous threat from the left flank through his burst of pace and incredible movement. Despite the departure of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku with no replacements coming in, the 22-year-old is proving a lot of his critics wrong by showing that the club and the manager can depend on him.

Rashford will be in for a close and tight encounter with Djibril Sidibe, who his currently on loan from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco and has become a regular starter for Everton in recent weeks. Given that Seamus Coleman is a huge doubt for the game at Old Trafford, there’s no doubt that the Frenchman will keep his place in the team and attempt to stamp his presence on both sides of the pitch.

Richarlison vs Harry Maguire

It’s no secret that Everton’s most deadly and influential player in the final third of the pitch is none other than Richarlison at the moment, an individual who may not be clinical and consistent against the mid-table teams but will always put on a convincing performance against the big sides. With his ability to take on two to three players with ease whilst being an aggressive predator in the box, he has the capability of hurting United on the counter or by winning the second balls in the key areas.

Richarlison has the intelligence and versatility to play on either flank or through the middle, and will be coming up against no one else but Harry Maguire, who has started to show his actual quality for the team when required and is also proving himself to be one of the main leaders within the squad. With United’s defence still conceding a few cheap goals here and there, Maguire will be hoping that they can become more stable and solid, as well as work on completing clean sheets regular basis.

Scott McTominay vs Gylfi Sigurdsson

Given the lack of quality midfield options that Solskjaer has available, as well as Paul Pogba still being on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, it means that Scott McTominay has to step up once again and be the main man for the midfield and for the team. Looking at the performances he has produced and how he commands the team around him from the middle of the pitch, he has surely been one of the United’s best players so far this season, especially given the lack of quality the team actually has.

Meanwhile for Everton, Gylfi Sigurdsson has started to play a deeper role and could be utilised in the central midfield position within Duncan Ferguson’s 4-4-2 setup, which may suit him well as he is known for his types of passing and his ability to feed the ball into the attackers. The 30-year-old has been seen as a number ten type of player throughout his time at Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City, but with Everton’s ongoing midfield injuries, he will have to play in a role he may not be totally comfortable in, considering the defensive duties and the amount of distance he will have to cover.

Manchester United remind the Premier League who were kings for 20 years

Let’s not walk around the situation this has been a hideous and largely terrible six years for Manchester United a club so used to picking up trophies and being England’s if not Europe’s best team. Those days look long gone but in the past few weeks the Red Devils have shown hints of their qualities which will always be festering in the clubs DNA.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started life at Old Trafford in such terrific form that he was soon given a full time contract and it was at that precise moment that United collapsed. The club couldn’t buy a win at the tail end of last season and that poor form has dogged them into this one. And yet there has been flashes that United do, in fact, have a quality team in them, it’s just been Solskjaer’s job to try and find it.

A more testing board would have sacked the Norwegian a couple of months ago to be fair and replaced him with Massimiliano Allegri who is currently without a job. But Allegri has stated that he doesn’t want to return to football until next summer. But maybe then after United’s recent up turn there is a case in keeping your manager and not sacking them at the hint that is everything is going downwards. Of course this stance can’t work every time but it is a thought.

Manchester United have had some difficult fixtures recently and it looks evident that these players are at their best when they are motivated by the bigger and stronger teams in the Premier League. Look at the evidence. United are the only team in England to take points from Liverpool this season as the two teams drew 1-1 at Old Trafford. United beat 2nd placed Leicester. They beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham 2-1 a week ago and then followed that up by beating the champions Manchester City by the same score line at the Etihad. It has been a fantastic few weeks for the club who are unbeaten in their last five matches.

This form has taken United up to 5th place and they are just 5 points behind Chelsea for a top four place. The club are scoring goals too and have 12 in those matches and there is a positive vibe around the club. Marcus Rashford genuinely looks like he has stepped up a level and looks world class. Daniel James is super quick and Jesse Lingard is doing a terrific job of late. It is all clicking for United.

One suspects though that it will be in the other games when United will be judged more, when they have to travel away to teams that are around them and in the bottom half of the league. Win those and get some consistency and then we can start talking about the return of this famous club. For now they remain a threat to the top 4 and Solskjaer looks like he has saved his job.

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Man City 1-2 Man Utd: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer comes away with the three points in the Manchester derby as Pep Guardiola’s title challenge has been hit with a massive blow

Going into gameweek 16, there was simply no game that was bigger than the Manchester derby, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United travelled to the Eithad Stadium to take on Pep Guardiola’s men, who had to ensure they go on a winning run to try and catch up to league leaders Liverpool. However, not many would have predicted the match to go down the way it actually did.

Before the match had taken place, Guardiola would have obviously aimed for the three points and also a dominant performance, in order to show to first-place Liverpool that they may be 14 points ahead but they will be ready to pounce on their mistakes. Meanwhile, Solskjaer was looking to replicate the showing and the result they recently produced against Tottenham Hotspur, in order to show some key consistency in the big games and to keep their hopes for a top-four finish alive.

As a whole, the hosts had unsurprisingly dominated most of the possession and were able to attempt more than 20 shots throughout the whole game. On the other hand, the visitors had the pace and the movement to be dangerous in transition, through the likes of Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, who were top notch on both sides of the pitch, on and off the ball.

United began on the front foot, as they were able to force City into making constant errors, which led them to test goalkeeper Ederson on more than one occasion within the first five to ten minutes of the game. It didn’t take long for the Reds to get their breakthrough, as Rashford was fouled in the penalty box by Bernardo Silva and went on to scoring his 10th league goal from the penalty spot.

A couple of minutes after taking the lead, Solskjaer’s young boys were able to get their second goal of the game through Anthony Martial, who linked up well with Daniel James before striking the ball with his weak foot into the front post and just past Ederson. Despite having the 2-0 lead up till the half-time break, some of the Red Devils would have wanted a further goal or two to extend their lead, as City are capable of turn anything around given their quality in the team and on the bench.

Following the half-time break, City continued to dominate possession of the ball and especially in the United’s half of the pitch, but were missing the cutting edging in the final of the third pitch, something they could have done with if their main goal-scorer in Sergio Aguero was not injured. Though, it was the brilliance of David De Gea and Aaron Wan-Bissaka that kept City’s midfield and attack at a minimum, who were continuing to pile the pressure on the visitors minute after minute.

The Citizens managed to get a goal back late in the game, where Riyaz Mahrez’s corner was met by the head of Nicolas Otamendi and into the back of the net, making sure that the last couple of minutes and the additional time would be full of nerves for both sets of supporters. However, Manchester United remained composed and held onto the lead and the important victory, taking them up to fifth-place whilst Man City remain in third-place and their title hopes are now shattered.

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

The summer signings show their quality in the derby

A lot has been mentioned about the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Harry Maguire, in terms of how much they were brought for over the summer window and if they are showing that they are worth every penny. They’ve had their good moments as well as their bad moments so far this season, though, they stepped up when the side and the supporters needed them the most, and will now be backed by the true fans of the club for the rest of the season and for years to come.

Starting off with Maguire, his reading of the game from the backline and his ability to lead the team has improved a lot in recent weeks, and he is no longer being out of position or getting dribbled past with ease. Focusing on Wan-Bissaka, he is able to complete the interceptions and tackles without any second thoughts, he is becoming a winger’s nightmare and had kept Sterling quiet for majority of the game. And onto Daniel James, he has proved a lot of the critics wrong, as he has shown he has more to offer than just his pace and movement, as his work rate and defensive duties are top notch.

Ole’s record in the big games continues to impress everyone

For sure, Solskjaer has had his problems in breaking down the mid-table teams and also picking up victories against them on a regular basis, but that comes down to the current squad quality and depth that is available to him. On the other hand, the side’s record in the big games under Ole has to be well appreciated, especially when they have beaten Spurs and Man City in the matter of days.

So far this season, the Red Devils are yet to suffer a loss to one of the big guns, having drawn against Arsenal and Liverpool whilst beating Chelsea, Man City and Spurs. If the side did not pick up 11 points out of a potential 15, they would have been far away from the top four positions and around the mid-table area, leaving their chances of playing in the Champions League next year very slim.

The Red Devils continue to show their effective counter-attacking football

On a lot of occasions over the last couple of months, United have proven to be more effective and dangerous when they are not dominating the possession and are focused on pouncing on the opposition’s mistakes and counter-attacking them with full effect. Given the side’s lack of creativity and with the absence of Paul Pogba, this style of play has improved them on both sides of the pitch.

When looking back at the first 15 minutes of the Manchester derby, all four of United’s attackers had good chances to score a goal for their side and make a name for themselves, but Ederson had other thoughts as he made a few good saved and kept his side in the game. Though, just from that period of the game, a lot of the United supporters would have understood the type of system that Solskjaer is attempting to successfully implement and he is just wanting them to have faith in him.

Man Utd 2-1 Spurs: Jose Mourinho takes no point back in his return to Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lives to fight for another day

With the Premier League midweek games truly kicking in once again ahead of a busy December schedule, the main focus was solely on the feisty and interesting fixture between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, where Jose Mourinho would be making a return to take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. A victory for either side would help them push towards the top four positions.

Going into the game, Mourinho would have mainly wanted the three points to get his side to at least fifth-place in the league, as well as to prove himself to the United board and Ed Woodward, who actually sacked him this time last year. Meanwhile, Solskjaer’s situation was a difficult one, as it looked like his days at the club are numbered and he was on borrowed time, so a win for him was required more than ever.

Overall, the host were more effective and productive with the ball despite not dominating the possession, and were able to get attempt and complete more shots on target. On the other hand, the visitors had some good periods with the ball in United’s half, but were lacking the cutting edge and the final third quality to break down the opposition.

United were on the front foot from the start, winning the key battle in midfield whilst using their pace and movement on the flanks through the likes of Daniel James and Marcus Rashford. Fortunately enough they took the lead through the latter and his high confidence of shooting from different angles, as his quick snap shot took Paulo Gazzaniga by surprise and went into the net.

The home side continued to pile on the pressure and were looking quite determined to doubled their lead, but did not find great success in getting past the Tottenham defence. Spurs managed to complete only two shots on target in the first half, with the most important one coming from Dele Alli in 39th minute of the game, where he created a moment of brilliance by beating both Ashley Young and Fred to the ball in the penalty box before calmly slotting it passed David De Gea.

After the half-time break, it didn’t take long for the Red Devils to take the lead again, as Rashford was fouled in the penalty box Moussa Sissoko and went to confidently taking the penalty to score his ninth league goal of the season. With most of the main action being covered by the hour mark, there wasn’t much to it in the final third of the game, as both sides became sloppy and poor on the ball.

In the end, Spurs were enjoying the fair share of the ball were could not do much about it, as United were being patient defensively and were looking for some moments to counter successfully. Though, the game came to an end with Solskjaer picking up the much needed victory and also doing a number on Mourinho, allowing United to move up to fifth-place as Spurs went down to eighth-place.

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

Marcus Rashford is a man on a mission

Since the final days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford, no player has scored more goals for Manchester United than Marcus Rashford (57), which is more than impressive from the 22-year-old who was only given his official debut two years after Sir Alex had went into retirement. And both his goals were well-taken last night, with one being from a tight angle and the other from the spot.

The questions were raised about the key chances he has missed this term and his ability to be a clinical goal-scorer, which he is now proving to the critics and to those who doubted him, as he has bagged nine goals and four assists in 14 league games. Given the lack of attacking options and depth within the department, Rashford will be heavy relied on from now till the end of the campaign.

The midfield duo Fred and Scott McTominay continues to impress

When looking at Tottenham’s midfield compared to United’s quality in the middle of the pitch, one would have thought that the control and dominance in the midfield battle would have been one-sided and in the favour of the away side. However, it was the midfield duo of Fred and Scott McTominay that came out on top, as they were constantly outstanding on and off the ball.

Looking into Fred’s performance, it was arguably the best one he has completed in a United shirt as far as the Old Trafford faithful were concerned, as he was progressive with the ball at his feet and was getting into the defensive duties when required. On the other hand, the return of McTominay was huge for the side and the manager, as his physical presence and ability to protect the ball in midfield was much needed, as the United midfield in recent weeks have been poor and deficient.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to fight for another day at Man Utd

For sure, the main focus has been on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and how much more longer he will be at the club for, but the credit has to be given where it’s due, as he managed to overcome a strong side in Tottenham Hotspur that is managed by Jose Mourinho. Surprisingly, Solskjaer’s record in the big games have been more positive and effective than in the games against the middle-table sides.

If he wasn’t able to recently get a result against Spurs and one potentially in the Manchester derby on the weekend, he would have surely been sacked by Ed Woodward before the December fixtures had kicked in. With the United fanbase being fairly even on if they want Ole out or not, they will want him to motivate the players to perform like they did on a more regular basis, where they play with urgency, fast tempo on and off the ball whilst having the mentality of being on the front foot.

Man Utd 3-1 Brighton: Ole’s men enjoyed a straightforward afternoon at Old Trafford

Although the main focus of gameweek 12 was the head-to-head clash between Liverpool and Manchester City, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a must-win match of they own as took on Brighton & Hove Albion, with the aim of turning their form and momentum in the league around. This was the perfect chance for the Red Devils to pick up the win with a solid display.

When looking back at the game as a whole, the hosts were without a doubt the most dominant and attacking-minded side and were on top on both sides of the pitch, whilst the visitors were sat quite deep in their own half and were unable to create enough chances or moments. Nevertheless, United played on the front foot straightaway and it allowed them to gain full control of the end outcome.

The Red Devils got the lead through a good move which went from defence to attack in the matter of seconds, as Andreas Pereira’s shot took quite a deflection before going into the back of net. And then a few minutes later, United got their second from a set-piece which was poorly defended by Brighton, with the loose ball in the penalty box being put into the wrong net by Davy Propper.

Graham Potter’s men were able to pick themselves up from the floor, as they grew in confidence and began to work well on and off the ball for the remainder of the first half. With the tactical changes being made and utilised during the half-time break, the Seagulls were able to get a goal back through Lewis Dunk, who dominantly headed Pascal Gross’ corner passed David De Gea.

Fortunately for Solskjaer and United, Marcus Rashford impressively managed to get the third and final goal for the hosts, which was once again worked well by the team to prevent the visitors from coming up with a potential comeback. Had the side been more ruthless in the final third, they could have ended the match with five to six goals, something that hasn’t happened in quite a long time.

In the end, the Red Devils picked up the much needed three points and their third league victory at home this season as they go up to seventh-place in the table. Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove Albion sit comfortably in eleventh-place, currently seven valuable points away from the relegation zone.

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

One of the best attacking displays at Old Trafford this season

For sure, the goals in the first half came down to a bit of luck and Brighton’s overall quality is not the greatest, but no one could deny the intensity and movement on and off the ball that United had showed, which had been lacking for quite some time. However, if it wasn’t for this early and positive mindset, the side wouldn’t have had the two important goals before the half-time break, something they haven’t shockingly completed for the first time at Old Trafford since the middle of January.

The Red Devils ended the match with five big chances created, 21 shots attempted and with 11 of them going on target. If the team are able to keep this up on a regular basis, especially once the injured players are back from the sidelines, then there should be no doubt that they could possibly push for a top four finish from the middle of the season as well as compete in the domestic cups.

The chemistry between Martial and Rashford is growing once again

After both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukuaku had left the club in the final days of the transfer windows, majority of Manchester United supporters were quite concerned about the quality and depth available in the attacking department, as no replacements were brought in at all. Though, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford getting into their stride recently, the side are now able to counter-attack effectively through the pace, movement and understanding they offer to the team.

If we’re being honest, neither of Martial and Rashford have been consistent goal-scorers week in and out, but as long as they work off one another and get into good positions, there shouldn’t be a problem in both players chipping in with 30-35 goals in the league together. United’s attacking options are quite thin at the moment, but they will be hoping that the current individuals will be able to guide them till the end of the year, with the hopes of signing someone in January being high.

Brandon Williams will make the left-back position his own very soon

It had seemed like United had some rising issues in the left-back area, given the injury problems that Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw have been having as well as Ashley Young’s time as a regular player coming to an end. On the other hand, Brandon Williams’ recent introduction has worked wonders for all parties, as he slotted into the position like a glove and is beginning to stamp his own mark.

He may not be seen as the next big thing or the finished article as of yet, but the 19-year-old has been showing his quality and potential on both sides of the pitch, being able to defend with composure, play confidently with both feet and prove to be a threat going forward. If he can continue to perform on a consistent basis and get into the good books of Solskjaer, then the Old Trafford faithful will definitely see the younger be on the team sheet more often than predicted.