There was a bit of pessimism surrounding Manchester United, especially after the lineups were out. The return to a 4-2-3-1 with Pogba and Herrera as the center midfielders brought doubts as to whether Herrera could keep up with the blistering pace of Leicester City, considering he had a deep lying role. Manchester United started out without Rooney in the lineup, which, many believe was a key reason for their win.
Key Changes and their tactical impact
The Spanish midfielder got to play in a position that has been his best in his career, also ensuring a flurry of goals and assists at Chelsea. The number 10 role, usually occupied by Wayne Rooney, was one for Juan Mata to take up and boy, did he do it well. Leicester, who are always behind the ball waiting for counters, failed to stop a Mata who made some good runs (second goal) by linking up well with Lingard and Pogba.
The lack of tackles on the Spanish midfielder was the key fault in Leicester conceding the second goal. The final few passes by Mata and Pogba was an occurrence of shoddy defense, which of course, was wonderfully converted with a stunning finish.
Having being involved in three of the four goals, the Dutchman is probably the best value for money United got in the past three years. With no complaints and drop in consistency no matter where he is played, his accurate long balls, curved crosses, and wonderful vision saw United stitch a flow of passes that, every United fan will agree, did not occur for quite a few games. One of the reasons the game was interesting until the end was this man, who stressed the importance of wingbacks in Mourinho’s approach with his marvelous display.
Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera
Initial thoughts were that United would struggle on the counter, which in the initial moments seemed to be true as Leicester troubled United with their high pressing. Herrera has had past incidents, where, in the holding role nightmarish fouls or loss of possession has seen United struggle. However, he stuck to the center of the field for most of the game and ensured to not be caught off guard and left the creativity to Pogba and Mata. Furthermore, he offered assistance to Smalling and Bailly when cover was necessary.
Manchester United need to improve despite this performance. Considering that 3 out of the 4 goals were from set pieces, United need to scoring from open chances. Zlatan needs to be more patient in front of goal and not try fancy scoring opportunities. Once Mkhitaryan is fit, this team can fire on all cylinders (with all due respect to Lingard who was brilliant). Leicester needs to find a better combination of Vardy and Slimani to ensure they actually score more goals on a consistent level. All in all, things look good for the premier league with all the big teams having won this week.