Manchester United earned their fifth Premier League win of the season, after defeating Everton at Old Trafford 2-1. It was not the vintage Man United in its usual swagger that we all remember, but it was an encouraging performance. Though there was a big defensive mistake from Chris Smalling – which only makes Jose Mourinho’s point about new centre-backs stronger – in general United did well and could have scored more.
One of the players that could have scored a big chance on Sunday afternoon was the player that ended up as Man of the Match.
Martial Shows Glimpse Of Possibilities
Anthony Martial had a superb display against Everton. He earned the penalty, which led to Man United’s opener, and then scored the second to prove this was going to be his match. However, this was all just a glimpse of possibilities the Frenchman is offering. He was making Seamus Coleman look poor throughout, but as Gary Neville pointed out on Monday night at Sky Sports, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“I looked at his physical stats against the players on the list and again I got the shock of my life. I got to the point where I thought that’s why Deschamps, Mourinho and others don’t fancy him. Martial is well down on his physical stuff. He hasn’t got any timing in his off the ball runs. What Martial tends to do is wait and wait and hangs wide. He needs to change that. The difference between him scoring 10 to 12 goals a season and 20 is that movement off the ball”, said former Man United player.
It will be interesting to see how will things unfold throughout the season, as Martial is poised to be Mourinho’s first choice at left wing for a longer period.
Manchester United Must Improve Right Flank
This is not something entirely new that we have not realized before. It was just striking once again how much better Man United’s left flank is better than the opposite one. That is not to criticize too much Mata, Fred and Young – as they operated in that area of the pitch – but more to show how much better the team needs to be on that flank.
Manchester United constantly gravitated towards the left. Luke Shaw was the second most involved player of all 22 of them on the pitch, while Pogba was the only one that had more of the ball at his feet than the left-back. Nemanja Matic played as defensive midfielder, but as a naturally left-footed player, he mostly moved with the ball to his left.
That was also down to Luke Shaw being better offensively than Ashley Young. It is the younger Englishman that runs forward more often and it is also Juan Mata who has natural inclination to cut inside on his left foot while playing as right winger. This made United asymmetric and sometimes that is much easier for teams to defend against.
Of course, that was not the case against Everton, but the problem is systemic. Man United need to start solving that, because better opponents will not have much trouble stopping a lopsided and predictable attack.