Friday, September 29, 2023

How Did The Manchester United Players Fare In Their Challenge Against Southampton?

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Syed Shaiban
Currently a student and a Bengaluru FC fan. Involved with grassroots football from the last 3 years.

On a night where expectations were huge from Man United, they delivered against a very mediocre Southampton display! Paul Pogba’s return, Zlatan Ibrahimović’s brace and a clean-sheet rounded off a perfect night for the Red Devils and their fans and a fantastic display meant that United finished the day at the top of the table with 2 wins in 2. Jose Mourinho’s men took the time to get their gameplay on point but 30 minutes into the game, there were already glimpses of what United would produce on this night. Soon, Zlatan Ibrahimović’s goal followed, out of nowhere Rooney’s cross met the powerful head of Zlatan and United were leading.  Debutant Paul Pogba enjoyed a decent first half and eyebrows were also raised at Marouane Fellaini, who did a very composed job today.

The second half was all about United though as they never shook a chance to march down at Southampton and as the half progressed, the threats increased. Anthony Martial came into his own by providing some blistering runs down the left while Pogba’s footwork meant that the midfield provided a whole new level of elevation in terms of performance from the last game. A cleverly worked move saw Luke Shaw enter the box and he was brought down for which referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty. A confident penalty from Ibrahimović ended up at the bottom left corner of the net and on such a magnificent night at United, one thing was pretty evident. Jose Mourinho and United only meant business now.

As we have seen, the reds dealt with the challenge from South Coast pretty well and here’s how they are rated.

David De Gea – 6.5/10

A rating of 6.5 doesn’t mean De Gea had a bad game. On a night such as this, he was rarely required to do anything where United’s defence once again impressed. If this goes on, we can expect many uneventful games for the Spaniard.

Antonio Valencia – 7.5/10

Valencia’s rise continues as he put in another impressive performance. Constant attacks saw him get the better of Targett and the Ecuadorian got a clean-sheet as well. A perfect night for him!

Eric Bailly – 7/10

Yet another solid display for the Ivorian in United colours. His pace looks to be a great asset for United and his partnership with Blind has been fruitful so far. Smalling has his work cut out for sure.

Daley Blind – 6.5/10

Not really the physical centre-back but he did what he does best. Reading the game brilliantly once again, Blind is silently dominating the forwards.

Luke Shaw – 8/10

Continued with his consistency again and on this night, he was better than Martial and united needed that from the left side. He won a penalty in the second half which was converted. There is much to come from Shaw! Simply impressive.

Marouane Fellaini – 6.5/10

An unusually fruitful and a quiet game for the Belgian as his defensive play came in handy for United in several places. United fans can only hope that Fellaini can continue this.

Paul Pogba – 7.5/10

Took time to get into the game but soon showed his dynamism. Paul Pogba upped the tempo in the second half and his performance brought about a great deal of difference in United’s midfield. A star to look forward to surely!

Juan Mata – 6.5/10

Brought about quickness to his game today and was involved in many attacks. Mata can do better than this as we’ve seen several times.

Anthony Martial – 5/10

A very disappointing night for the Frenchmen as he struggled in the second half. Second half, his performance got much better but he squandered a good number of chances.

Wayne Rooney – 6.5/10

A sweet assist for Wayne Rooney and an improvised performance rounded off a good night for the captain. He has to do a much better job with the ball at his feet though. Sloppiness can be the only criticism.

Zlatan Ibrahimović – 8.5/10

Silent and responsible for most of the game but his sheer poaching class has come in handy. 4 goals in 3 competitive games for the Swedish hero as once again, his finishing and confidence has highlighted a performance worthy of a round of applause.

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