After being recently defeated in their Champions League fixture at home to Paris Saint-Germain, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are back into winning ways as they picked up an important victory away from the home. The Red Devils travelled down South to face West Ham, a team that the side haven’t performed greatly against the last few years, especially at the London Stadium.
Looking at the match as a whole, the visitors had dominated the possession of the ball and for majority of the second half, but it was the hosts that had created the most big chances and also missed the most big chances too. Most importantly, it was David Moyes’ men that took the well-deserved lead in the 38th minute of the game through Tomas Soucek, as Pablo Fornals’ cross from the corner was met by the head of Declan Rice, followed by Soucek tapping it into an empty net.
However, Manchester United were able to turn the game around after the half-time break, with both Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford entering the match for Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek. As the goals came from Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Rashford in the final 25 minutes of the game, the Red Devils showed how clinical and ruthless they can be when required.
Overall, when viewing the Premier League table, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are currently in fifth place, three points behind first-place Chelsea and with a game in hand. On the other hand, for the Hammers, they have now drop to seventh place and could drop further in the league, as the likes of Southampton and Wolves are yet to play this weekend and Aston Villa now have two games in hand.
Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league game…
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s half-time changes proved to be influential
Manchester United were all over the place in the first half, as they failed to show consistency and composure on and off the ball, allowing West Ham to create enough chances and have no problems on the defensive side of the game. Though, the whole situation turned around with Solskjaer making two important substitutions at the half-time break, as the side began to benefit with the creativity and decision making of Bruno Fernandes as well as the directness and pace of Marcus Rashford.
Once both players had entered the pitch, West Ham were spending most of the second half defending in their own half and trying to keep up with the opposition’s midfield and attack. Given the amount of quality and depth that Solskjaer has available at his disposal, he is able to rotate around in the key areas, rather than draining out the important players like he has done this year.
Manchester United are unable to create and attack without Bruno Fernandes
In the first half of the match, United were absolutely limited to zero chances being created, three shots and with two of them being on target in 45 minutes of football. Not only that, but the side were having great difficulties in reaching into the final third of the pitch, despite the constant high pressure and the aggressive defending from West Ham. It was the first time that Bruno Fernandes had been rested since joining the club, and the side were very slow, lethargic and poor without him.
However, the Portuguese international came to the rescue just after the half-time break, as he went on to produce eight key passes as two big chances were created by the playmaker. With the influence he is proving to have on the team and how is he able to get the best out of his team-mates, it can easily be stated that he is the side’s best signings post the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Greenwood’s time has come, as both Cavani and Martial are faced with a setback
As Edinson Cavani went off at half-time with a knee injury and so did Anthony Martial just after the hour mark with a groin injury, it leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a rising problem given that the upcoming fixtures are against Leipzig, Manchester City and Sheffield United. However, the manager could have a short-term solution in Mason Greenwood, whose instincts and movement is very unique for a youngster whilst he continues to prove himself as the most clinic attacker at the club.
For sure, the 19-year-old hasn’t had the perfect start to the season, with personal issues he has had off the pitch and the English media being on his case since a mistake he made during the international break back in September. But, it looks like he has now put everything that’s happened the last few months behind him, as Greenwood has opened his account in the Champions League and now in the Premier League. Mason Greenwood can do anything he wants to, the world is his oyster.