Marcus Rashford scores twice to dent Arsenal’s title hopes

Marcus Rashford scores a brace on his Premier League debut
Marcus Rashford scores twice against Arsenal to give Manchester United a deserved victory

Marcus Rashford, who made his Manchester United debut against FC Midtjylland in the week, scored another brace on his Premier League debut this to end a wonder week for the 18 year old local lad. Louis van Gaal’s men hadn’t picked up three points since the 3-0 victory over Stoke City at the start of the month.

In that time, United fans had seen their side concede a late equaliser at Chelsea, lose two fixtures 2-1 to struggling Sunderland and Europa League minnows Midtjylland – before beating Shrewsbury in the FA Cup and thumping their Danish foes in the return leg. A win was needed for United, who were up against an Arsenal side needing a big “pick me up” from the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona midweek.

United were well worth the three points against a below par Arsenal side, who are falling further behind in the race for the title. The home side fielded three players making their Premier League debuts, in Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and James Weir. United have now fielded debuts to eight players this season under Louis van Gaal. If the attacking football hasn’t been quite vintage, the belief in youth talent remains.

Youngster Marcus Rashford’s double ends a wonder week
1997/98 wasn’t the best of season’s for Manchester United. The reigning English Champions conceded their title to Arsenal in a cataclysmic fashion. United were on top for most of the season, until the North Londonders came to Old Trafford. Newish boss Arsene Wenger had recruited well, bringing in Nicholas Anelka, Patrick Vieira and Marc Overmars – who added a bit of swagger to the outfit following the brief Bruce Rioch regime. United would go on to lose key games against Coventry City, Leicester City, Sheffield Wednesday and the big title clash against United at Old Trafford – with Overmars scoring the only goal of the game. With Arsenal celebrating in the May of 1998 with their eleventh title – seven months previous, United’s new superstar was born.

“I can understand it last Thursday against Midtjylland because you are coming in and you do your thing without any pressure, but the second time is always more difficult and he played a very good match because he did the things that I asked him.”

– Louis van Gaal on Marcus Rashford

On October 31st 1997, Marcus Rashford was born in Manchester; ten days before Teddy Sheringham scored a brace against Arsenal at Highbury. Who would have thought that nineteen years later, Rashford would be doing the same as United’s former number ten in what has been an unbelievable week for the youngster. Rashford netted twice on his Manchester United debut FC Midtjylland and followed up with another two goals today, against title chasing Arsenal. The occasion didn’t overwhelm him, nor did the fact that if Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial had of been fit, the youngster would have only made the bench.

Rashford was a constant menace all afternoon and early on picked the ball up on the left hand touchline and drove towards Hector Bellerin and Gabriel, with the South American tripping up the youngster on the edge of the box. It was the Brazilian defender who failed to clear an excellent cross by full back Guillermo Varela and Rashford capitalised with a firm strike past the helpless Petr Cech. The youngster would strike again three minutes later, with a strong header to the right of the Czech goalkeeper – following a Jesse Lingard lobbed cross in from the same right side. 2-0 up and United were in control.

This is my first game in the Premier League so obviously it’s been amazing and to score two is a bonus so hopefully I can carry it on and do it again next game.”

– Marcus Rashford on his league debut

Former red Danny Welbeck hit one back at the end of the first half to give Arsenal some hope of obtaining something from Old Trafford, bearing in mind that Arsenal hadn’t won at Old Trafford by scoring more than a single goal since 1978/79 (a 2-0 victory). Ander Herrara struck midway through the second half to ensure United regained a two goal lead – assisted by Rashford, before Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil scored Arsenal’s second. United held on and were well worth their win, with Marcus Rashford named man of the match – a perfect end to a quite unbelievable week.

Rashford will never forget these four goals and it is key to not place too much pressure on such a young lad. Chris Eagles, Federico Macheda, Nick Powell and Giuseppe Rossi all scored on their debuts and never made (nor will do in Powell’s case) any type of impact at Old Trafford. Watford come to Old Trafford next and surely, Rashford will be named in the starting Xi – with all eyes looking on the youngster to cause havoc yet again with his quite feet and speed. A great performance and unbelievable league debut.

Memphis Depay shows why United paid the money for him
United fans finally saw the quality of Memphis Depay, nearly eight months since he signed for nearly £30million from PSV Eindhoven. It hasn’t been an easy ride for Depay at Old Trafford and has faced criticism for his lacklustre performances and laid back attitude. Today against Arsenal he was simply excellent and demonstrated some breathtaking pieces of skill to draw fouls from the Arsenal defenders throughout the afternoon. He showcased what you expect from a United winger – confidence, taking on full backs and the character to do it time and time again.
Memphis Depay showcases his quality against Arsenal in the 3-2 victory

Since he gave the ball away needlessly against Chelsea, which led to Diego Costa scoring a late equaliser, the young Dutchman looks to have turned a corner – with a goal in the Europa League and fine display against Arsenal. It was a joy to watch him today, something that many United fans have never muttered – with below par displays and horrendous mistakes – like the poor header against Stoke City. It does take time to adapt to the Premier League and he is still only 22 years old. Depay could still have a major say on whether or not United pick up some silverware this season with displays like this.

His gift for Valentine’s day to his girlfriend’s of her face emblazoned on the back of his jacket was as romantic as being led away handcuffs following a late night serenade of your better half having carved her initials onto each pectoral. However, if he continues to put in performance like the one against Arsenal – or pull of a ridiculous piece of skill like he did in the Europa League against FC Midtjylland, then he definitely has a long future at Old Trafford.

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