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.