Manchester United got themselves another home victory and this time, it was struggling Crystal Palace’s turn to get the four goal-scoreline which has almost become ‘normal’. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao of Accra-based Citi FM, picks out the main talking points.
Early start stopped Eagles’ flight
When teams in distress come to Old Trafford, they usually think of two things. They know they could get beaten but they also believe that if they are resilient, they can get a possible upset their way.
Crystal Palace also felt these two things but Manchester United were also prepared for them and Mata’s early goal meant that the Red Devils could now play with some more patience knowing that there was a lead in their pockets.
Palace tried to create chances and they had every right to give themselves a chance of a fight but they were always against it and they ultimately fell over.
Over the course of seven weeks, Manchester United have gone from scoring a flurry of goals late in games to a team that starts well and delivers the body blows as the match wears on.
That underlines the growth of the team and it shows just how ready the unit is to be among the contenders for the title.
Fellaini serving humble pie?
At a point last season, Marouane Fellaini was public enemy number one and a lot of fans did not want him around the Theatre of Dreams anymore.
Fast forward to a few months and he is keeping Ander Herrera on the bench and he is even adding goals. Against Crystal Palace, he was at the end of two crosses from Ashley Young and Marcus Rashford.
The Belgian seems to be doing a great job at winning the fans over. He did his share of the workload well. He was around for the tackles and the interceptions and the times when the team needed an outlet from defence.
Going forward, one can only imagine that he will get more minutes under Jose Mourinho.
The manager himself believes that Fellaini is one of his trusted soldiers and the following quote from Mourinho could give a good understanding behind the recent upsurge in form:
“I always thought that he was a player with special qualities and players with special qualities are players with a place in your team or in your squad. I knew he was a player with a lot to give, but I think the relation between the players and the managers are very important in their performance levels, confidence levels and self-esteem levels.
“I think we managers are guilty many times of good things the players do and we are also guilty of bad things, or players not performing as well as they could do. I think that’s part of our careers and I think Marouane is performing very well because he feels I respect him as a player.”
Those were said before the Everton match and the goals against Palace will certainly make the Belgian feel like he is the king of the world.
Question marks over Mkhitayran
The Armenian’s quality is apparent. His style is great and on his day, he is wonderful but it was not his day against Crystal Palace.
He did the basics of his job but in the central attacking role, he did not have the desired impact. The only memorable of his was a volley that went wide of the target.
Maybe Crystal Palace’s shape clogged the middle zone and robbed him of the space he needed to properly function. It just did not come together for the former Dortmund man.
He has had better matches and the 4-1 win against CSKA Moscow was a great night for him but against Roy Hodgson’s men, he was not great.
Is he suffering due to Pogba’s absence? Are players not moving well ahead of him? Should he be more daring and make more attempts at goal?
These are questions that need answers and the right responses could unlock the doors to the great realms Mkhitayran can operate in but until then, he needs to get better afternoons on an individual level even though the team gets the points.
Rashford, Martial give good contributions
Since the start of the season, the debate among a lot of Man United fans has been once concerning who starts between Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
For weeks, each player would come off the bench to add what the other failed to give on the field.
Against Crystal Palace, both young men gave their share of efforts in the victory and it was refreshing.
Rashford served the assists for the first two goals while his French ‘rival’ worked a goal for Romelu Lukaku.
The manager should be happy with having players who want to prove a point each time they get the opportunity.
It only bodes well for the team and for them as individuals. They need to feel that they have parts to play this season. That is the only way they will keep giving off the best they can offer.