Manchester United collected all three points as Erik ten Hag and Scott McTominay led their side to a 2-1 Premier League win at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
The fixture started very much in Erik ten Hag‘s favour, with the Reds being awarded a penalty through VAR for a foul on Antony by Enzo Fernandez – although Bruno Fernandes, the ever-reliable man from the spot, had his effort saved, with Alejandro Garnacho blazing the rebound over the bar.
This did not change any momentum, with United continuing to dominate and finding an opener not long later through Scott McTominay, but despite their imposition on Chelsea‘s box, Cole Palmer was able to find an equaliser just as eight minutes of added time were tagged onto the end of the first half.
In the second half, Chelsea very much grew into the game and had a god few chances, but it was McTominay once again who handed United another lead on the night, nodding in a fantastic cross from Garnacho in the 70th minute to set the score at 2-1, with United seeing out the game with relative ease.
#1 – Varane is proving Ten Hag right
Raphaël Varane has not been playing for Manchester United for over a month, with Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelöf, and Jonny Evans all ahead of him in the pecking order, although the latter has been out with injury for the last few weeks.
Despite his lack of game time, Varane was not in the squad against Chelsea due to a “sore back” – this only proves further that Ten Hag is right not to rely on him as he cannot be trusted to keep fit.
With Harry Maguire backing up his fresh Premier League Player of the Month accolade with yet another solid performance, it is hard to see any way back for Varane in the near future.
#2 – McTominay provides yet again in a specific role
When Manchester United have the ball and are applying pressure to the opposition’s final third, Scott McTominay is class. So many of his goals have come from late runs into the box to pick up either a loose ball or a cutback.
Where he falters is when United are playing in their own third, on the edge of André Onana’s area. He often crumbles under pressure or does not play the correct pass and can be careless on the ball when he has to think defensively.
With United truly dominating the opening 30 minutes, McTomoinay was allowed to thrive playing level with Fernandes, and this bared fruit with his opening goal. Again, during the 70th minute this time, it was the Scotsman who scored his second of the night, arriving at the back post and nodding in Garnacho’s cross.
It’s a specific role, but when it works, it works very well.
#3 – Rashford could take a leaf from Garnacho’s relentlessness
Playing on the left wing, Garnacho was relentless against Marc Cucurella, either for better or for worse – but the consistent effort was admirable as he was both searching for goals and creation down the flank.
It is something that Rashford could really look to emulate after the player has been accused of not caring enough in recent games, with his lack of effort apparent. If Rashford were to apply himself more and run at defenders in the same relentless fashion, he would be able to build more credit back with the fans, regardless of whether he creates any real chances or not.
#4 – Onana comfortable in the Premier League
André Onana’s time at the club has blown incredibly hot and freezing cold, with the player having some shocking performances in the Champions League.
In the Premier League, however, he has faired better, performing much more comfortably and making some brilliant saves in the competition, as well as his trademark ball-playing abilities looking much more relaxed and assured, with this on display once again against Chelsea.
With the must-win European tie against Bayern Munich drawing ever closer, Onana will need to be on top form next Tuesday when the German powerhouses visit Old Trafford.
#5 – Højlund is still waiting…
Rsamus Højlund’s lack of any goals in the Premier League is starting to become rather bewildering because it’s not exactly like the player has missed any glaring chances.
United do not look like a team used to playing with an out-and-out central striker (which they haven’t, with the club not having a conventional centre-forward since Zlatan Ibrahimovic).
It does still feel that as soon as one goes in, they will come flooding – this happened at Atalanta, and for £72 million, you’d hope it will happen at United, too. It should still be kept in mind though that he is only 20 years old and is far from his peak as a footballer.
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