Monday, January 30, 2023

Tactical Analysis Of Manchester United’s First Home Win Of The Season Against Southampton

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Rainar Angelo
An ardent follower of Manchester United who in his spare time likes to unravel mysteries of football and music. He also believes in continuously interacting with people in order to view things from a different perspective.

Mourinho’s victory over Southampton sees him being the first manager to win the first three games in a row for the first time in 79 years at Manchester United. The much awaited debut of Pogba, Ibrahimović’s continued inspiration upfront and the continued improvement in United’s style of play summed up the game for the fans. Manchester United cruised to a 2-0 win over Southampton, who had been trying to break United throughout, succeeded partially at times but failing to execute the finishing touch. While they may have had some glimpses of scoring, in the end, it was all about United and their continued run under the new boss, Jose Mourinho who seems happy so far with 3 wins in 3 games.

Southampton’s formation

Southampton continued with a 4-4-2 diamond from their last game. An injury, early in the game saw Romeu Vidal go off, with Jordy Clasie being the holding midfielder for the team. Højbjerg and Davis playing ahead of him with Tadic ahead of them in a free role, often pulling strings to get creative or destructive did look fruitful at times but the lack of a solid force in the box did not see them score a goal. Shane Long and Redmond both tried, from the little that they did get to score but to no avail.

soton form

Southampton’s best players were undoubtedly Targett, Hoiberg, Van Dijk and Redmond while the others were mediocre at best. While these were standouts for Southampton, the new style of play for Southampton will take some getting used to, but in due time will see them winning games.

Tadic seemed to do well in his free role, while Dijk did a brilliant job in keeping track of Ibrahimović who of course managed to score a marvelous header anyway. Targett had a hard time facing Valencia who appeared to have another wonderful game and is proving precious at right back, extending the width of play with his runs.

Southampton towards the latter half looked clueless at times, struggling to break past United’s defense and resorting to long range shots and clumsy long balls. All in all, a game of mixed results as there were positives their manager would’ve liked and negatives showing that they have a lot of work to do.

Manchester United’s formation

Manchester United played a narrow 4-2-3-1 with the extra width being offered by Shaw and Valencia. The game was hugely marked by the dynamic movements of Pogba, Ibrahimović’s movements inside the box, the composed nature of the defense with Fellaini doing a brilliant job just ahead of them.

mutd form

United played their 4-2-3-1 in a manner that saw them use three Center Attacking Midfielders rather than two wingers and one Center Attacking Midfielder. Martial and Mata both stuck to the center of the pitch while going into the final third and the width in the attack was provided by Shaw and Valencia.

The Ecuadorian, in particular, was doing a fantastic job, with his crossing a huge improvement in the past few games that he’s played. Bailly and Blind did a fantastic job in defense, Bailly being a stopper and Blind being the defensive cover. Bailly pushed up a bit, trying to win the ball when the opportunity arose and Blind dropped a bit to ensure any non-rewarding adventure by Bailly wouldn’t result in a goal. The freedom of Pogba saw Fellaini play a defensive role, staying back at all times, pressing within his own half and staying silent otherwise.

Paul Pogba’s debut

The Frenchman, who had his second debut for the club had a nervous start, unsurprisingly, thanks to the chills of Old Trafford, later going on to do some flamboyant dribbles, flank switching balls, runs towards the defense and having a pop at goal. It amazes me that such a tall man is capable of moving with such grace, going through defenders with ease, leave them clueless as he exploited that right side of the midfield as much as he could.

His passes were all over the pitch as we can see (below) and with due time, one call tell that he is blending in well already. The performance tonight, was a glimpse of the value United recouped him for, while there is still time to come, his best will surely give the fans a lot to cheer for.

Pogba's impressive distribution (Courtesy
Pogba’s impressive distribution (Courtesy

Zlatan Ibrahimović – Deadly in front of goal again

The Manchester United striker, proved once again, as to why he is not here to enjoy the weather but to win another league title. The towering presence of Van Dijk was shown to be no good and he slammed in a Rooney cross, a goal of sheer quality that very few can claim to do on a regular basis. The forward just keeps getting better and better with each and does much more than roam up front. The former Swedish International scored two goals from just 3 attempts today and fans will hope that this form continues.

Ibrahimovic's shots (Courtesy Squawka)
Ibrahimovic’s shots (Courtesy Squawka)


Manchester United fans can be happy that their team is blending, growing and appearing more frightening with every game. On the other hand, Southampton need to sort their differences in midfield. The switch from attack to defense must be more fluid. This, of course, will take time and when it does begin to click, the team will deliver some good performances due to the likes of Redmond, Long and Tadic. Manchester United will be glad to have won another game, this time with a clean sheet at home and will look forward to their next game against Hull City.

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