Manchester United were able to maintain their three point deficit behind Chelsea this afternoon with a very impressive 2-0 win over the reigning champions, Manchester City. Despite being out possessed 72%-28%, United created many more dangerous chances and could have easily won the game 4-0.
Led by Bruno Fernandes and Fred once again, the lads were at it from the kick-off. Here’s how we did.
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – 10
Picked an XI that lined up as a back-5 once City were in our half and a back-3 as we team pressed City in their half. The methodical build up by Pep Guardiola’s side played right into Ole’s tactical assignments as we were able to pack the final third of the field breaking up play around our box. On current form, the squad was picked perfectly and the only comment I would make is for Ole to make subs slightly earlier than he has been. I felt the squad tired about 10 minutes before the introductions of McTominay and Bailly.
GK: David de Gea – 9
Did everything well today. Made some great saves down to his sides as well as pushing shots from distance over the bar. The two aspects of DDG’s game that makes us nervous, distribution and box presence, were also spectacular today. David made several great passes out of the back and commanded the air in the box as cool as you like.
RWB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 9
What a game from AWB! He’ll get home later and empty Sterling out of his pocket. 8/8 tackles won, 11/12 duels won, 8 recoveries and 3 clearances in a world class RB defensive performance. On the offensive end he showed a lot of confidence pulling off some skill moves but struggled to pick out the passes in the final third.
RCB: Victor Lindelof – 8
Looked very assured today – a breathe of fresh air for him considering his last few weeks. Commanding in the air and smart backing up of Aaron Wan-Bissaka when he was too far up the field.
CB: Harry Maguire – 9
Gargantuan performance once again from the United captain. Made so many tackles and clearances in the box it was absolutely fantastic to watch. The only stain on his game today was getting nutmegged for a breakaway as he dove in to try and stop Sergio Aguero. Luckily Matic was there to clean up.
LCB: Luke Shaw – 7
Struggled a bit in the first twenty minutes or so. Was loose with his passing and also in possession as Aguero picked his pocket to start a break that led to nothing. Showed up afterwards though and took care of his defensive duties at CB until he was shifted to wing-back where he helped solve the Mahrez problem at RW once he came on.
LWB: Brandon Williams – 6
Shaky in defense apart from one good reading of play and headed clearance. Pressed well and made some decent balls in (lofted through ball to AM9) but was caught too far up the field on multiple occasions. Rightfully removed for Bailly to shore up the left side of the field where Mahrez was starting to wreak havoc.
RCM: Nemanja Matic – 9
Cleaned up practically everything around him like a vacuum in front of the back 3/5. Stopped a would be goal from Aguero after a slick nutmeg on Maguire. Controlled the ball in tight spaces and released the ball with perfect timing constantly.
LCM: Fred – 8
Again built up on the confidence from the previous match. Looked extremely confident on the ball and worked tirelessly with the team to press and move the ball quickly. Going to very difficult to find a spot for Paul Pogba at the moment…
CAM: Bruno Fernandes – 9
What can you say that hasn’t been said already? Apart from his brilliant FK assist to Martial, Bruno was constantly in great attacking positions and should have had two tap-in goals if Martial and James had been smarter. Nobody pressed or worked harder and Bruno once again he lifted our effort and confidence levels.
ST: Daniel James – 6
Was a problem for Otamendi all night due to his pace but really made the wrong decision with every opportunity. James has the habit of holding the ball too long on the counter attack until he is eventually dispossessed. Had the ball with the option of a simple square ball to Bruno for a goal and chose to shoot right at Ederson. James is purely a pace merchant at the moment.
ST: Anthony Martial – 8
Martial did almost everything right today in terms of his work rate. Always pressing with Bruno and James, and always made the runs necessary to be a passing option for teammates. Was definitely helped by Ederson on a goal that most likely should have been saved. Like Daniel James, Martial had a clear opportunity to square the ball to Bruno in the box for an easy goal but chose to shoot at Ederson on a tight angle. Very solid performance from Martial but a bit more awareness he could have helped put the game away much earlier.
SUB: Scott McTominay – 7
Was brought on for Martial just to shore up the defense and secure the 3 points; and did he ever! Showed brilliant awareness to pounce on a the skipping overthrown ball by Ederson and banged up from distance to seal the points.
SUB: Eric Bailly – 6
Like McTominay he was brought on to solve defensive weaknesses and see out the game. The inclusion of Riyad Mahrez was creating serious issues for Brandon Williams and Ole reacted quickly to spot it. Swapping Williams for Bailly and shifting Luke Shaw out wide was an astute decision that sealed the backline.
SUB: Odion Ighalo – 6
Brought on very late but held up play well and provided a bit of energy in the front line.