In the end, it should have been much more. Between Antony and Rashford, they could have had 5 or 6. The Brazilian hit the post and missed a 1v1 against Pickford, who was in inspired form today. Rashford shot straight at the keeper when he should have picked out a corner. Wan Bissaka missed an open net after Antony hit the post. It had to be McTominay that would break the deadlock, after a great find from Sancho. United still huffed and puffed while Everton grew into the game. A misstep by Coleman allowed for Rashford to go through on goal. He squared to Martial, who had just come on recently, who duly dispatched into the net to create as much daylight as had been shining on Old Trafford throughout the day. The game lulled out, with a worrying sight as Rashford limped off. All in all, a good day for the Red Devils.
Different Day, New Advantages
After what has been a period of grinding through games, with mostly wins to justify the approach, United went through a sticky patch where the performances still left a lot to be desired but the results started to not look so pretty. With the number of games that has been played, fans were comfortable with the fact it wouldn’t exactly be the free flowing Man Utd of yesteryear for the remaining amount of the season.
However, after the dreary performance in the North East, it was surprising to see that Man Utd are in indeed invoking the free flowing football of yesteryear. One obvious change since then has been the fact that Weghorst has gone out of the team, with Rashford replacing him up top. Sancho came in for the Dutchman, playing from the left, with Antony keeping his spot. Martial has come back from the treatment table but Ten Hag has decided to phase him back in slower than the other times, with good reason too. What is clear is that with that front three, it provides fluidity and speed that is just not possible with Weghorst playing. Rashford may not provide the back to goal play that Ten Hag likes, even though he has improved in that regard as the season has gone on, but one thing he is able to do is worry centre backs. When Rashford does play through the middle, he constantly looks to go through the channels and against Tarkowski and Keane, both who are not the most spritely in a foot race, it was a good area that the team was looking to exploit.
It was actually the fact that United were able to constantly find the ball in behind the heads of the full backs that were more surprising. Plenty of times, mostly through the invention of Bruno Fernandes, Antony and Jadon Sancho were found with time and space. The former was actually found with excellent through balls that allowed him to go through on goal. One, he shot straight at Pickford and the second, he allowed Godfrey to find his way back to make a shot saving tackle. The other day, Brentford sat off and camped behind, which people gave as a reason to why we were able to dominate in the first half but Everton did the opposite and we were still able to with the runs in behind. Unfortunately, the victory was marred by Rashford pulling up with a suspected groin injury at the end. He plays a massive part in our ability to push the opponents back.
Maguire came in for a rare start as Ten Hag sought to rest Varane given it would have been a third start in 6 days for the Frenchman. There was not much in the way of having to defend for a lot of the game but he still done things extremely well and in an accomplished fashion. One time, Demarai Gray had him 1v1 in the centre of the box and alarm bells were ringing. In the end, he was able to see it out comfortably without much danger to the United goal.
Bruno followed up with another great performance in this deeper role. Long term, it won’t be a viable solution but given we were in dire straits in the centre of the park, it has been two real captain’s worthy performances.