After the unexpected break through needed fan protests against the horrendous ownership of Man Utd, we were back to Premier League action in our penultimate away game, at Villa Park. It is usually a happy hunting ground and so it proved again today. Did not start well as Traore arrowed a magnificent strike into the top corner. United huffed and puffed until early in the second half when Pogba was brought down by Luiz and Fernandes dispatched. A pass into Greenwood from Wan Bissaka was brilliantly let across his body by the former and struck it low to Martinez’s left. The game as wrapped by Cavani, as he headed in a cross from Rashford. Watkins was sent off after a two yellow cards. The coronation on the other side of Manchester is put on ice for a further week.
Conducting yourself accordingly
It’s one of the main things that deep blocks can’t live with. When the ball is being moved quickly, with intent, it becomes tantamount to being on a carousel, as Ferguson said about the great Barca team. It’s also one of the main things that this United lack, in their ability to do it consistently. Often time, we see the ball is being played at a pace too slow to destabilise the opposition, whichever third of the pitch that the ball may be in. In terms of the first two, Villa didn’t offer much resistance with a high press, outside of the goal we conceded in the first half. A sloppy pass and touch from Fred and McTominay respectively preceded some weak defending by Lindelof as Traore lashed in the top corner. However, we got into the final third quite regularly but that’s where the intensity of passing slowed to a level that did not cause the Villains enough trouble. Rashford was evading the central space to pick it up deep or out wide and Pogba came central off that left wing berth he has been regularly taking up recently. It made it a bit too tight and was becoming a ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ issue
As per usual for this season, United came out of the second half with a different level of intensity. Pogba drifted more than he did in the first half, essentially picking up a free role rather than a false left role. It was this movement across the pitch that saw him come up against Douglas Luiz on the right hand side of the box, who felled him, as he done in the reverse fixture. The Frenchman’s role in the team adds some control in the final third and it was him making the passing quicker that we saw the heightened level of play Villa found very uncomfortable to deal with. With that movement, Rashford was able to spin off into the left channel with more confidence and it mirrored the move vs Spurs where it became akin to a 4-2-2-2, as Greenwood was coming more central at times and it was finding him in that position where he was able to spin Mings and tuck into the near post beautifully. It shouldn’t take half time or one player upping it to change the whole fortunes of our attack but that has often been the case for the season.
Inevitability is thy name
A graphic popped up mid game which showed that in his last 8 PL appearances, Bruno Fernandes had 1 goal and 1 assists, with 21 shots and 18 chances created. It was judged that he was fading having been a prominent member with the minutes played this season. As soon often happens with the commentators curse, he would pop up with a goal, from a penalty brilliantly earned by Pogba.
In recent weeks however, we have seen Bruno has been a lot less kamikaze with his actions, particularly his passing. Some say that by doing this, it has taken a bit off his productivity but his play in the Europa pretty much goes against that. After he scored, another graphic popped up. 27 goals in a season. That’s probably the graphic United fans care more about.
The way in which Cavani and Greenwood have come into such rich vein of goalscoring form as the season swells to its end just increases the confidence that United might finally end their trophy less run of 3 seasons. 7 in 8 and 5 PL goals in 5, respectively, means it is becoming hard to fit in Pogba Cavani Greenwood and Rashford.
For the first time since his arrival, Maguire failed to finish a 90 mins. That’s a 72 game run, which is quite stunning and deserved recognition for his incredible availability. Hopefully the injury isn’t too bad as he has gone from strength to strength this season.