Five Takeaways From Manchester United’s Win Against Brighton

Mata Still has a Role to Play

By far United’s man of the match, Juan Mata was constantly moving off the ball and demanding the play go through him. When in possession, his first look was always to go forward. Playing as an inverted winger and cutting inside onto his left opened up the play for United. 

He was involved in both the setup and finish of United’s second goal. Got three or four touches in helping United work the play from right to left before making an audacious run-up the left channel to finish neatly with his right. 

He may not get the start in big matches, but Mata showed he can still influence a game and be relied upon.

Bailly Needs to Start

It was nice to finally see a center back with closing speed. He got caught in a few awkward positions but was able to recover. Did well to clean up a few errors from the outside backs.

He can still be a bit clumsy and rash at times, but that can be worked out with games and coaching. I’d be surprised if he didn’t start against Tottenham on Sunday. 

Dalot Sighting

Considering his last game came against Norwich back in June, it wasn’t the worst of performances. His inclusion was probably more of a cameo for a potential loan move than anything else. 

He gave the ball away cheaply a few times, but got into some nice positions going forward and almost scored late. In the end, he helped United keep a clean sheet, but didn’t do enough to warm himself to Ole.

Brandon William is Not a LB

Does an admirable job playing opposite his preferred side, but doesn’t provide United with anything going forward. His inability to attack down the left touchline with his left foot slows United’s forward momentum on that flank. He repeatedly cuts to his right foot to play a square ball or to go backward. 

Need to see him on the right to fully determine his offensive capabilities. At only 20, he has an unusual fearlessness and strength in defense. He does well in 1v1 battles. At the very least, he can be an excellent backup to AWB. 

United desperately need another LB before the transfer market closes. A natural left-footer stretches defenses and opens up a lot for United.

Van De Beek Needs Time

Has Dan James to thank for saving him from the best disappearing act of the game award during the first 70 minutes. Had a cheeky touch to put Mata through on the second goal. 

It is too early to judge him, especially when he’s playing with the second team and only getting late-game minutes with the first. Like Mata, he will become more important as the season wears on and Bruno and Pogba need rest. 

His first few games showed what a revelation Bruno was for United. To step into the center of the park and have an instant impact is no easy feat.

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