Manchester United went on to beat an unfortunate West Ham, who were victims of some horrific refereeing last night. An insane red card to Feghouli ruined things for West Ham as they had to play with ten players for pretty much most of the game. United, however, did not build up on this until some substitutions later on which, were calculative, brilliant and highly effective from Mourinho.
Manchester United found their in-form centre-back pairing back in the starting lineup as Bailly left for the AFCON. They decided to rest Martial and went ahead with Lingard on the left while the centre midfield was the favourite trio’s return. Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic, and Valencia carried on from the previous game while Darmian started in place of Blind.
Tactical application due to the absence of Feghouli
United played a 4-3-3 and the loss of Feghouli meant that their best bet was to stretch the opposition as wide as possible. The wingbacks had lesser attempts at risky passes and the wingers aimed to stretch the opposition.
Rojo and Jones pressed higher up while in an attack, moving through the middle of the pitch whenever the opportunity arose. This was true majorly in the case of Rojo who also managed to create a key chance. United used the central players to exploit gaps while the wingers and wingbacks made it harder for the defenders to keep the opposition (United) in check.
Bringing on Mata and Rashford
Despite being down to 10 men credit must be given to West Ham who managed to hold the fort for more than half the game. It became inevitable that the team needed some creativity and pace. Darmian was taken off after the first half while Mata was brought on. This move saw Carrick shifting defence while Mata played in the centre with Herrera occupying Carrick’s role. Rashford was brought on to replace Lingard and things really kicked on for United with the two combining in a deadly move to score the first goal of the night.
Rashford was, in my opinion, the most influential player for United having tested the opposition several times. While United didn’t capitalise on all his attempts, the gap between him and Lingard was inevitable in this game. Once United got the goal, Mourinho decided to shift back to a more balanced option bringing on Smalling and taking off Mkhitaryan. This saw Mata move up to the right and Smalling in defence; substitutions like these are quite adventurous and Mourinho has been making the right calls from time to time.
United made use of their wide players to breakthrough West Ham and it worked. It is true that the second goal was a fortunate one and on any other day the game could’ve been West Ham’s had it not been for the red card and De Gea’s brilliance but if we were to consider chances United could’ve dealt more damage from the movements of Rashford and Mata, who, in my opinion, were instrumental in United’s win. The unbeaten run continues but upcoming fixtures can possibly reap some benefit for a consistent United.