The excitement was palpable as the first XI came out as those the fans wanted in were given the starting berth and the cries seemed justified and the Red Devils strolled to a comfortable victory. Martial got the first hat trick in the Premier League for Man Utd since Robin Van Persie scored his Premier League winning hat trick against Aston Villa. The first was with his left off a cross from Rashford, who took a great touch prior, then with his right from a low drive courtesy of Wan Bissaka and then a one-two with Rashford again capped off with a little lift over the Sheffield Utd goalkeeper.
The creativity deeper has been cried for throughout the season as it would mean the forwards would get the ball in better positions and get more chances to deliver rather than hoping for one opportunity to edge the team in front. The difference was seen today as Martial was the textbook definition of a number 9. No more dropping deeper searching for the ball in order to quicken up the build up and get the ball into the final third as the presence of both Bruno Fernandes and Pogba meant he was allowed to constantly survey the Blades back-line. His movement was excellent and the sharp, curved Henry-esque run that led to Rashford’s gilt-edged chance was the highlight in that regard. For all the goals, there were moves across the near posts that done the damage. Connecting with Rashford’s ferocious cross was not easy but he managed to guide it into the net with a strong left foot. Wan Bissaka’s cross was less powerful but powerful enough that the same guiding technique, this time with his right foot to put the ball past Simon Moore. The third that crowned the game was beautiful work between Rashford and the Frenchman, as he lifted it over the onrushing goalkeeper. It was not just the goals and movement that was sharp, his overall play was tight, connecting very well with all of those around him: holding it up very well, pressuring the opponent’s CBs into mistakes. More of the same to come and the number 9 position may very well have been filled with no doubt for the first time in over 7 years
Of course much of the accolades will go to Pogba and Bruno for what was an impressively controlling performance but the man behind them was perhaps more accomplished in his role as Matic rolled back the years to the time when Gary Neville quipped that the Serbian defensive midfielder would guard the Chelsea’s centre backs during his time at Stamford Bridge. Our rate at which we keep clean sheets with him in the team compared to when he is not starting is quite outstanding. He was constantly cleaning up in front of Maguire and Lindelof today; covering for which full back had ventured forward to support the attack; perpetually moving the ball as it came into him. An example in the second half where he covered as Lindelof missed the ball as he stepped in to win it, covering the ball and passing intelligently to break the Sheffield Utd pressure so we were eventually able to get out the other side of the pitch. Occasions like this were peppered throughout the game and hopes are that as Matic ages, he is properly replaced so that those ahead of him can attack without a worry behind them
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