Manchester United showed calmness and a professional head to get a 3-0 win at home against Stoke City and contributing writer, Nathan Quao of Citi Sports, Accra, notes down the major points.
Lukaku finds reprieve
Strikers love to score goals and for Romelu Lukaku, the sight of the ball going past Jack Butland must have filled him with joy.
It has been quite a season for the Belgian. He has been part of all talk stating the negatives of strikers and he has had to deal with constant comparison with Alvaro Morata of Chelsea.
He started off slowly against Stoke City and he looked uncertain in the first half. He found himself down the right wing helping Valencia at certain times. That in itself was not wrong but you clearly want your number 9 in the box. In the second half, he stayed closer to goal and he got his reward.
More will be expected and more should be expected but Lukaku must keep working hard. He should not be scared of being unpretty when looking for a goal to score. However, he needs to make himself available for the chances.
He needs to be smarter and more creative to give defenders more headaches. That is when he will be the nightmare for the opposition.
Early goals are important
Scoring first never means you will win a match but it will give you something to hold on to.
Against Stoke, it almost became useless since Stoke were creating chances but at half time, the lead’s value was underlined.
Two more goals were scored and that settled the issue.
The team must always underline this fact because with teams chasing games, spaces will appear and the likes of Martial, Lukaku and Pogba and Lingard will thrive.
It is important for the manager to get the team to start with a lot of gusto. That will always change the opponent’s game plan and force them to open up. The quality in the Premier League is very unforgiving so the last thing you want is a home game that becomes complicated because you have nothing in your stable that gives you an advantage.
Pogba shines again
96 touches. 77 passes. 2 assists. Paul Pogba was clearly the best man in the United side against Stoke. He managed to find Antonio Valencia down the right and that led to the first goal and his second assist leading to Martial’s goal was very similar to the one scored at Everton.
The former Juventus player’s influence on the team has grown over the last few weeks.
He is running the team with a lot of confidence and when he gets into the zone, the rhythm of the attack feels right.
His ability to find the same number of assists as Kevin De Bruyne despite missing a good number of matches says a lot.
What he needs is a few more goals. Some of the free kicks need to find the target and some of the wonderful shots from his days at Juventus need to return. That gives him some unpredictability and the air of mystery he should command now in the team.
Perhaps, over time, he will get to that point.
Notable mention: Antonio Valencia’s super strike. He decided to show everyone that he could still pack a shot in his weaker shot. It was nice to see him back in the team.