match reviews

What we learned from Matchday 7 – Manchester United 4 Crystal Palace 0

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United remain unbeaten this season following a routine win over struggling Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, here are some key observations made on Matchday 6

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Moyes men to the fore under Jose

One factor that has set Jose aside at United, is his ability to get right what his two predecessors failed at. A simple example is the use of Fellaini and Mata. Moyes signed the pair while in charge, but neither he nor LVG was able to set the team up to suit both players. While Mata has been a consistent performer, same could not be said for the Belgian midfielder. Fellaini never seemed to fit in at Old Trafford, and the fans were quick on his back after every misdemeanor – and there were quite a few.

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Mata and Fellaini have become key players under Mourinho

Despite the player’s many indiscretions last season, Jose stuck by Fellaini (even refusing to sanction a move to Turkey in the summer) and is now reaping the rewards. Pogba’s absence has not been felt largely due to the giant midfielder’s impact. While LVG and Moyes tried to use Fellaini mostly in holding midfield, Jose has given the player liberty to get forward – and the goals (a facet of the Belgian’s game at Everton) have started to flow again. A player whose name graced most conversations about players leaving Old Trafford, now looks set to sign an improved contract extension. Should the Belgian keep this up then it is only a matter of time before he is widely accepted as a ‘United player’. At the moment he is without doubt a key player for Jose alongside Mata.

Mourinho justifiably stubborn

There was clamor for Jose to retain Martial and Herrera in the starting XI given their individual performances in Moscow, yet the pair were back on the bench. The snub significantly came days after Martial was excluded for France on the basis of not starting enough games at club level. The youngster was an injury doubt, possibly explaining the manager’s call, yet there was nothing to suggest any impairment when the player was introduced. Although ultimately justified, the decision to start Rashford and Fellaini ahead of the aforementioned pair initially appears illogical considering the starting duo were called up by their countries – with Rashford likely to be heavily involved with England, and Fellaini carrying a knock. But with United winning comfortably courtesy of Jose’s selection, you can’t question the manager’s decision.

Rashford justifying selection but Martial needs games

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Rashford created the opener with a brilliant piece of skill (Picture credit: @ManUtd twitter)

The teenager once again started in place of Martial, and was at his influential best. The consistency being demonstrated by Rashford makes him an easy pick for Jose, yet it may be unwise to continually bench Martial. It has been suggested that both youngsters start at Mata’s expense, yet Jose will feel justified as the players who would be benched for Martial, combined for the opening goal. Still the kid has to play before he becomes disillusioned, which could affect his form. A scenario which would be detrimental to United.

Fellaini now key without Pogba

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Fellaini slowly becoming a fan favorite under Mourinho (Picture credit: @ManUtd twitter)

While Herrera distinguished himself as an energetic box-to-box holding midfielder last term, Fellaini had an irregular campaign – conceding late penalties, being sent off against City, the midfielder tasted many lows trying to do the defensive stuff. Despite most fans losing patience with the player, Jose kept faith and was rewarded with some key goals – especially in the Europa League. This season, the Belgian has been an ever present, while Herrera has been overlooked. While Herrera may be the better all-round midfielder, there is no denying Fellaini’s obvious strengths make him more of a goal threat. With Matic already doing the dirty work in midfield, there is less need for the Spaniard. The Serbian was supposedly brought in to free up Pogba to play, however he is having a similar effect on Fellaini.

Shaw nowhere in sight

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Young is fast becoming Jose’s first choice LB

This tough love may be going too far. While Jose’s methods may have worked with Mikki and appears to be working on Martial, there is a sense Shaw is being overly chastised. Young has been decent so rightfully started, but with Palace struggling, a place in the squad could have given Shaw some minutes in the dying stages, yet he wasn’t even named on the bench. Jose is hurting the player’s World Cup chances. It’s only a matter of time before it begins to appear like he’s punishing Shaw for snubbing his overtures while at Chelsea (a distinction the defender reportedly shares  with Martial).

  

United mean business

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The lethal in-form striker strikes again to put icing on the cake (Picture credit: @ManUtd twitter)

United were guilty of bottling several opportunities last season, most of which kept the club rooted in 6th. The pressure seemed to get to the players at crunch time in the EPL, however, the current United machine shows no signs of nerves – even with the top position up for grabs. Goal scorers are popping up from all areas of the team and the players all looking purposeful.

Following the international break, the Red Devils face a series of away matches, starting with a difficult away trip to Anfield on Matchday 8.

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