Manchester United were able to win back-to-back games for only the third time all season against Watford today. Old Trafford paid their respects to United Legend, Harry Gregg, with a minute of silence prior to kickoff and then proceeded to pay tribute with an attacking and free-flowing second half performance.
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – 9
Lining up in a 4-2-3-1, Ole picked the strongest team he could from the players available. Choosing to drop Lingard and Pereira is hopefully a sign of him showing a bit of ruthlessness in his team selection. In the first half we struggled to deal with Watford’s press with Fred giving the ball away far too often. Greenwood tucked too centrally which took him out of the game a bit. Fortunately, Ole noticed this and instructed Greenwood and James to push wider and that ultimately was the decision to turn the game. Great in-game tactical adjustment from Ole.
GK: David de Gea – 8
Had much more to deal with in the first half than the second. Made a good save on a stinging shot by Doucoure. Had a few shaky moments with the ball in the first half but was much better than usual with his distribution.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 8
Showed great recovery speed and tackling as he always does. Was left a bit isolated in the first half due to Greenwood drifting centrally but handled Watford’s attacks. Also, starting to look much more comfortable on the ball and delivering passes. Found Martial twice with passes from deep in defense and is finding ways to get crosses off on his right foot. Had a chance to bury a rebound in the 17’ but failed to hit the target with the one-timer.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 6
Looked very shaky early on giving away two balls via sloppy passes – one that almost led to a goal had it not been for Luke Shaw. Lucky the VAR Gods were on his side as he failed to head clear (along with Bruno) the corner that led to Deeney’s disallowed goal. We look very shaky with Maguire and Lindelof as both are short of speed and Lindelof lacks strength. Victor must be feeling the heat of Bailly behind him…
CB: Harry Maguire – 7
Sloppy early on with his passing out of the back and took too long on the ball, which is becoming of a habit. In the 3’ minute he collided with Matic while attempting to get to a lose ball that ended up putting Deeney in on goal. Offensively, he is really trying to be involved and get in on the goals, but he missed his chances. Bruno put a cross on a platter twelve yards out that Maguire failed to make decent contact on. Late on he tried a scissor kick off of a cross and sent it well high and wide.
LB: Luke Shaw – 8
If Lindelof is feeling negative effects of the return of Bailly, the emergence of Brandon Williams may be having the opposite effect on Luke Shaw. Very good at LCB against Chelsea on Monday and excellent once again today. Made a goal saving tackle on Deeney in the 3’ minute and was always aware of his surroundings today on defense and never looked phased. On offense it felt like a classic Luke Shaw game – the type before his leg injury in the UCL a few years ago. He was direct and with pace today linking with James and Bruno Fernandes constantly. Created counter chances and played a pivotal role in the build up to Anthony Martial’s goal.
CM: Fred – 5
Definitely seemed as if Watford were targeting Fred in possession. Turned the ball over constantly in the first half and looked to be really off the pace; surprising as he was rested midweek in the Europa league. All his passes were sideways or backwards when he did complete them and missed a golden chance on the edge of the 18 yard box. Improved on the ball in the second half and broke up some play but never got into the game.
CM: Nemanja Matic – 6
As with Fred, Matic looked very slow in the second half. Clumsily collided with Maguire in the box creating a goal chance and struggled to get back on defense creating far too much space between the back four and the midfield two. Also like Fred, picked it up in the second half and partook in the United dominance.
RAM: Mason Greenwood – 7
A tale of two halves for Greenwood but what a story the second was! Almost invisible outside of one shot in the first half, Mason absolutely put his stamp on the second half dropping deeper and wider to get the ball and stay involved. He made two plays from his defensive third that stood out; on one occasion he stole the ball and turned on a dime to deliver a 30-yard ball over two lines of Watford into stride for Bruno. The second was his run and goal.
Grabbing possession deep and then opening his body for a pass before snapping his hips closed and sending Capoue for another hotdog, breezing right by him, played a give and go with Bruno and then buried the finish on his left foot. He showed great composure and calmness on the ball and in my opinion this was Mason’s best half of senior football. Hopefully we see Mason get more gametime with Bruno and Martial.
CAM: Bruno Fernandes – 9
Alpha dog performance from Bruno today. He is the player, quality and mentality, that we have been lacking since Ibra and Rooney left. Struggled to get on the ball in the first 30 minutes or so and began dropping deep. After getting himself more involved in the game, our tides began to turn. He gave the ball away more often than usual today but it was purely down to attempting creativity. Bruno dictated play and tempo as usual and created chances with dangerous passes and relentless runs. Made a great run to draw a PK and tucked it away with uber confidence. Delivered the assist for Martial’s goal and could have had a second on a cross to Maguire. Man of the Match performance from Bruno.
LAM: Daniel James – 8
Looked much livelier than he has recently. Got into dangerous spots and delivered some very good balls – along with some poor ones. Put Bruno in for the foul that drew the PK and put a ball on a platter for Fred on the top of the 18 who shot wide. Used his pace well and stayed wide to link with Shaw and Bruno. Very positive game for James.
ST: Anthony Martial – 7
If you could sum up Anthony Martial in one game, this would be it. Similar to the Chelsea game, Martial was not very involved until his goal. Made runs but was sloppy in possession which limited United’s ability to create much in the first half. Then out of nowhere, United were able to put together one of the best team goals of the season starting all the way from De Gea. Eventually the team move ended with Bruno putting Martial in, who sent Capoue for his first hotdog with an outrageous piece of skill, then chipping Ben Foster. Almost invisible to world class in the blink of an eye.
SUB: Tahith Chong – 6
Brought on in the 79’ on a triple substitution so he did not have much time to impact the game. Had a chance at goal but shot wide and drew a smart foul around his 18 to waste some time.
SUB: Odion Ighalo – 5
Once again had the opportunity for a debut goal at OT but a last ditch tackled blocked his shot after he had rounded Foster.
SUB: Scott McTominay – 6
Good to see Scott back on the pitch. Back earlier than expected (Pogba take notes).