Manchester United kept up their their winning ways after securing a difficult 1-0 win at Burnley thanks to another very good goal from Anthony Martial. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, of Citi Sports, Accra, Ghana, notes some of the major talking points.
Very late awakening
For a match that was certain to be tough, the Man United looked flat for long periods and it was essentially Burnley’s lack of proper firepower in attack that hampered the home side from getting from the tie.
The Red Devils had an air of tiredness for most parts of the game while they should have been crisper and sharper.
Whenever the ball was turned over, players like Ashley Young had obvious challenges racing back to take care of the potential danger and it could have been very dangerous.
Finally, when the lights came on and there was some life in the team, sustaining the grip was tough to do.
Passes would be exchanged but the final phase was absent. Credit, though must be given, for the work that went into the goal but it could have and probably should have been more.
The next Premier League game is at Tottenham and such poor starts and a lack of urgency will be punished. Spurs are very capable of causing problems.
Central defence stood out
The pair of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones does not leave fans too happy but while their team mates were struggling to keep up with the war in midfield, the two players held their own and did their very best to thwart Burnley.
Smalling and Jones headed everything that came their way and they willing to step out of their zone to give their bit to the cause.
Jones had a moment in the second half when he took a pass and went on a forward run just to give some life and a different dynamic to the attack.
Smalling was fouled at a point late in the second half for a free kick. One may wonder why that was significant.
The value of the decision to move and get fouled gave the team a chance to breathe a little as Burnley upped the ante in search of the equaliser.
Jones was named Man of the Match and it was deserved. His work together with that of Smalling’s was the backbone for the victory and that will please the manager. After all, defensive solidity is what tickles his fancy.
Red flags on Rashford?
With all the talk surrounding the entrance of Alexis Sanchez, it will be prudent for the other players in the forward positions to show their value to the team.
One such player is Marcus Rashford and his role in the match at Burnley was certainly to provide an outlet for the counter attack.
But his display, not matter how brief it was, did not please onlookers especially he had the chance to mostly create goals for his colleagues.
There was a moment when Lukaku was free in the box and was waiting for the pass from Rashford. That did not happen.
The Belgian was the most obvious option and yet, he did not receive the pass. One cannot tell if he was in an offside position or not but it was very clear that Rashford had other ideas than an assist.
Granted, Sanchez’s place in the team will cause a shift and bring competition.
However, if Marcus Rashford will thrive, he needs to make statements. Those who make goals also get credit and he must see that. He will get his goals, surely but he should not be eager to make himself a villain.
The regular price for such decisions is very costly.