Manchester United, for the first time in six weeks, were in action on Tuesday evening in the EFL Cup as they beat Burnley 2-0 to progress to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.
3After an initial slow start to the game that saw Burnley fairly comfortable in possession, the Red Devils woke up when a brilliant volley assist from Aaron Wan-Bissaka set up Christian Eriksen for the opening goal.
After going in at half time one up in comfortable fashion, Marcus Rashford scored a brilliant solo goal in the second half to secure victory for Erik ten Hag’s men.
Here are five things learned from the club’s first 90 minutes back after the World Cup break:
1) Aaron Wan-Bissaka has a solid case to make
Before this fixture, Wan-Bissaka had played four (yes, FOUR) minutes of competitive football under Erik ten Hag, having dropped significantly behind Diogo Dalot in the pecking order.
However, on 26 minutes, his assist to gift the opening goal of the game to Eriksen has helped him show Erik ten Hag exactly why the Dutch manager should give Wan-Bissaka a chance should he not leave on loan in January.
2) Alejandro Garnacho is now a fully-fledged first team player
Alejandro Garnacho has picked up where he left off for Erik ten Hag. starting on the left wing for the Red Devils. He was explosive and impressive the whole first half, and in the second,
He had a few chances to score or create a chance to score, and although he didn’t take them, his general positioning, timing, and intelligence was once again incredibly impressive for a player of his age and novice.
Not only that, but on numerous occasions he could be seen tracking back, looking for interceptions and offering himself as an outlet for left-back Tyrell Malacia, showing further maturity in relation to working as part of a unit in order to win.
3) Casemiro didn’t miss a step
Despite not playing with most of his club teammates for six weeks, Casemiro went straight back into the XI like he never left. Starting at centre-back due to a lack of availability in the position, he looked completely at ease.
In the first half he saved Martin Dubravka’s skin with a goal-line clearance after the keeper’s blunder, kept Ashley Barnes fairly quiet throughout the half and kept his back line in shape.
He continued to excel in the role, playing some beautiful and creative passes from the back and generally dictating play in both the defensive and middle thirds.
4) Martin Dubravka did not convince
Despite what one might think about David de Gea, his place in the side and his current contract situation, Dubravka did himself no favours in goal tonight with a couple of pretty shaky moments.
As mentioned above, Casemiro had to bail Dubravka out of a sticky situation after the ‘keeper completely missed a punch out, and mere seconds later Dubravka then miss-controlled a pass back towards him, letting the ball slide under his foot and having to chase after it before the ball rolled in.
Those moments aside, Dubravka did make some decent saves, and despite keeping a clean sheet, if tonight showed anything it showed he should not be the one to dethrone David de Gea.
5) Marcus Rashford, take a bow son
Despite only starting one fixture for England at the World Cup, Rashford scored three lovely goals in Qatar, including an incredible free-kick against Wales.
And not only did he look sharp from the off against Burnley, the goal he scored was simply incredible.
Receiving the ball on the halfway line, Rashford ran at a petrified Burnley defence who could do nothing more than back off until it came to the edge of the right hand area, where Rashford elegantly and swiftly danced his way through their back line before thrashing the ball into the bottom left corner and celebrating like he’d scored a worldie… which he had.
If Marcus Rashford can keep up this brilliant form into the second half of the season, Erik ten Hag will have a monster player on his hands.
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