Most Underrated Striker in Europe? Champions League Heroes and Zeroes Game week 3

Another week, another great round of Champions League fixtures. Let’s get straight into who has done well this week, and who has failed.

Hero – Edin Dzeko

I don’t know how controversial it is to say this, but Dzeko has been one of the best players in the Champions League since last season. He was excellent in Roma’s surprise semi final finish, scoring 8 in 12 for his side. He has continued his form into the new season, with the ex Manchester City forward already scoring 5 goals in only 3 games. His stats just show how brilliant he has been. In the Champions League, Edin Dzeko has been taking 5 shots, making 1.7 key passes and winning 3.3 aerial duels per game. What make his shot numbers even better are the fact he’s taking 4 of them inside the penalty area, and 0.7 in the 6 yard box. He is getting in very good positions and the chances he is getting are good chances. However my critical side knows that he has played very inferior opponents. I just can’t take that away from him however. A brilliant start for a guy who just doesn’t get enough credit for all the work he does for that side.

Zero – Nemanja Matic

Instead of watching any other game, I decided to support my team and watch our game against our first real European elite since Bayern Munich in 2014. It was a huge test for United and it was a chance to see how much they have developed since that season under Moyes. If referring to how United are under Mourinho, it was a perfect representation. There was a lack of attacking structure, midfielders not given clear roles and instructions, and no sort of plan from Mourinho. While Jose has fallen out publicly with a handful of players, the two players he seems to most get along with, Lukaku and Matic, have been terrible this season. I sympathise with Lukaku. Mourinho just uses him in the wrong way. He isn’t a target man, like Dzeko or Costa, but a poacher (Chicarito with a gym membership would be the best way to describe him). United should build their entire system to give him the ball in the box as much as possible. But because of the pragmatic system that is deployed under Mourinho, Lukaku has to drop deep to receive the ball, to get any involvement in the game. I have no sympathy for Matic however. The Serbian doesn’t offer enough to justify starting him in every single game. The game against Juventus shows this just perfectly. While stats might make it out like he did a good defensive job (he made four tackles in the game), he did not. Many criticised Pogba for being out of position and not giving the defense effective cover. People forget that it was Matic who let Dybala through for the first goal, and failed to track him effectively through out. Every time Matic received the ball, United’s attacks would halt to a stand still, and any motion made, would be gone soon as he would put his foot on the ball. He is the one guy who is holding United back, giving them a weakness in a position that by now, should not be a problem. Matic is by far the biggest loser this week.

Hero – Rafinha

Rafinha was a player I thought I would never see in a Barcelona shirt ever again. That’s not to say he is not a good player. In fact he has shown plenty of promise whenever he has played. However it’s injuries that have held him back. It is the reason why Barca were so adamant to sell him, but no one could agree with their pricing of the Brazilian. He remains and after starting over world cup winner Ousmane Dembele, he has a lot to show, and he did. Rafinha scored the opening goal for Barca against his former side. He played as more of an inverted winger, drifting inside, while Roberto would give the width. He did this excellently, taking 3 shots and getting all of them on target. He also had a 94% pass accuracy , and completed a key pass. He caused Inter plenty of problems in the absence of Messi. I still think Rafinha should be sold, because he isn’t worth the hassle he puts on a side that still has some deadweight, and needs to add players that aren’t plagued with injuries.

Zero – Hugo Lloris

Oh Lloris. I still think nothing highlights Lloris better than captaining his side in the world cup final, to then make a horrible mistake to give Mandzukic a simple finish. I like Lloris and the criticism he’s getting (Henry Winter and Jermaine Jenas I’m referring to) from pundits is a little harsh. While I really do not think he is at the level of De Gea, Ter Stegan or Ederson. He is still a competent goalkeeper, and plays in a position that is very hard to find a replacement for. However I cannot defend what he did against PSV Eindhoven. His sprint outside of the box to intercept the ball, went horribly wrong, and ended with the captain getting his marching orders. What makes this worse is this the second time this season that Lloris has been sent off for the same sort of challenge. It baffles me why he keeps trying these incredible risky challenges. Lloris is the loser for simply not learning from his mistakes, and causing more dilemmas for Pochettino, regarding his goalkeeper situation.

Hero – Fabinho

I wanted Fabinho at United before they signed Matic, but it seemed he would stay at Monaco for another year before joining Liverpool the following summer. I have been an admirer of the Brazilian since his permanent signing at Monaco, where he originally played as a right back. He excelled in that position, but Jardim still decided to move him into midfield, and it was a genius move. Last season, Fabinho was a highlight in an otherwise average Monaco side, putting in incredible tackle and interception numbers, and being arguably one of the best players in Europe at winning aerial duels. Liverpool signed the 25 year old for a bargain £40m, but since his arrival he hasn’t started a game. This is mainly due to the excellent form of Milner, Keita, Henderson and Wijnaldum. This game against Red Star was his first start for the reds, and to say he took it was an understatement. Fabinho was perfect in this game. He won 9 tackles, more than any other player on the pitch, 6 aerial duels (only Van Dijk won more) and was very good on the ball. He completed 80 passes with a 90% accuracy, higher than anyone else on his side. He showed exactly why Liverpool bought him, and has given even more questions for Jürgen Klopp.

Zero – Valencia

With Manchester United losing their fixture against Juventus, Valencia needed to get 3 points against Young Boys if they had any chance of getting out of the group, and making United’s horrible match in Turin even worse for them. Young Boys are the worst side in this group (as seen from José’s United breaking them down easy), but they still seem to have an attack that is threatening. Against Valencia, they did show this, they managed 7 shots on target, bettering Valencia’s 2. What was most impressive was their shot zones. They took 72% of their shots in the 18 yard box, showing that they created very good chances. It was a game where Young Boys deserves all the points, but just couldn’t put the game to bed. Valencia have been so poor this season. While they have remained good defensively, their attack has fallen off a cliff. Valencia were overachieving massively last season when scoring goals. Their three top scorers, Zaza, Mina and Rodrigo, scored 41, but were only expected to score 32. Their numbers seem to have come back to earth this season, with Mina, Rodrigo and Batshuayi (who came in to replace Zaza) have only managed 2 between them. They have all struggled and not having that excellent start, like they did last season, just hasn’t given them a leg to stand on. They are the losers for making an interesting group on paper seem so much more predictable.

Hero – Viewers of Hoffenheim vs Lyon

This was by far the game of the week, with the game ending 3-3. It had everything in an attacking sense. Hoffenheim played their usual extremely direct football, with Szalai winning the second ball, and the players around him receiving it. Lyon played with their incredible young talent, and moved with pace and speed to get in behind a very weak defense. While I’d love to compliment Hoffenheim, their defending in this game was poor beyond description, with Baumann, Vogt and Akpoguma all making mistakes in the three goals they conceded. If it wasn’t for these amateur moments, Hoffenheim would have easily came out of this game as victors, but they only have themselves to blame. Now onto their attack, which was excellent. Their wing backs, Schulz and Kaderabek, advance incredibly high up the pitch, and in this game they made it count. Schulz managed 2 key passes, while Kaderabek managed 6. Kramaric was arguably the man of the match in this game, after his 2 great strikes to give Hoffenheim the lead, and back in the game. Lyon can definitely call themselves lucky. They were falsely denied a penalty, after Denayer’s clear hand ball, and Vogt missed a very good chance to seal it. After Memphis Depay scored what Lyon thought what would be the winner, Joelinton came off the bench and scored the equaliser that got them back in the game, which made this game arguably one of the best games

Zero – Atletico Madrid

While I did say Matic is the loser of the week, Diego Simeone’s side come incredibly close. They lost 4-0 away from home to high flying Borussia Dortmund. The Westfalenstadion is a very difficult ground to visit, with Real Madrid going there back in 2013 and being humiliated. This was actually Atletico Madrid biggest defeat under Diego Simeone, and they definitely deserved to lose this one. It might sound relatively basic, but the effort and energy just wasn’t there from Madrid. Atletico usually put in a high amount of tackles in a game, with them averaging the 3rd most tackles in La Liga this season. However it was Dortmund who put in the most tackles in this game, and Piszczek getting the most with 6. It was the little things like this that made it look like Dortmund wanted it more. The average positioning of Simeone’s side just didn’t make sense either. Koke was the furthest back out of the midfielders, yet started quite advanced. Another thing that was obvious was some of Atletico’s aging squad might be starting to show. 52% of Dortmund’s attacks were down the left side, the same side as Koke, who didn’t help defend that side at all, and Juanfran, who is definitely past the point of playing at the top level. Both Hakimi and Larsson couldn’t be dealt with. Speaking of Hakimi, he was great on the night, finishing the match with 3 assists. His defensive work was next to nothing, but he didn’t have to defend. Juanfran wasn’t offering what he did 5 years ago, and Koke spent the entire game in a central area. He had the freedom of the left side to himself. A great performance from the Real Madrid loanee. It puts Dortmund at a point where they could seriously surprise people in this competition, while Atletico need to get their problems sorted quickly, if they wish to make that huge spending count.

Advertisements

2018 World Cup Debutants XI

The world cup is easily the biggest competition in the world, and on the big stage, it is a big chance for players to make a real impression. I will not be including players under the age of 23, because that will be saved for another list.

GK: Marc Andre Ter-Stegen

It’s actually quite incredible that this will be the first world cup for Ter Stegen. The Barcelona stopper has proven himself to be one of the stoppers around, making an already solid Barcelona defense into an absolute wall. With the big injury to Manuel Neuer, not only will he be on the plane, but he might also be starting.

RB: Dani Carvahal

This is by far the craziest addition, just because of the high level that Dani Carvahal has been playing at for the past 3 years. It is understandable why he wasn’t including. He only arrived back at Madrid half way through the season, after a successful loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen. The four time champions league winner is now one of the best right backs in the world, and now instantly starts for his team.

CB: Marquinhos

The next two players just about qualify for this, but still are eligible. While I don’t rate him as highly as he seems to be, I think he is still a very good defender. This Brazil team, defensively, seems to be going through a transitional period. Thiago Silva and Miranda are both near the ends of their long careers and Dani Alves seems to be finished for Brazil. Marquinhos is still only 24. He has a long career ahead of him in the middle of this strong Brazil team. He needs to be apart of this defense, to add some structure. He could be very valuable for Tito’s side.

CB: Samuel Umtiti

Another who just about qualifies for this XI. Samuel Umtiti has turned into one of the best defenders around. With a Gerard Pique who might be cultured on the ball, but lacks the positional play at times. Having someone so athletic and so confident in the tackle is so handy to have. If he is partnered alongside the equally brilliant Raphael Varane, France should have no issues in Russia.

LB: Danny Rose

While he hasn’t been at his best in recent months, it is still clear Rose is one of the best left backs in the Premier League. His solid athleticism and brilliant contribution in the final third has shown him to be a perfect modern left back. His place is for some reason, still up for debate, but if Gareth Southgate has a brain of any sorts, he is a must start.

CDM: Nemanja Matic

Since Serbia did not qualify for the 2014 world cup, it means this will be Matic’s first World Cup, and about time. The Serbian veteran has been a brilliant defensive midfielder over the years, and now will be his time to serve his country. He has such an excellent ability of reading the game, and most of all, composure. He is such a calm presence, and in a team full of young players, it will be a perfect addition, and a perfect addition in this team.

CM: N’golo Kante

With Kante’s relevance only appearing in 2015, there would have been no chance for him to be selected in the previous world cup. But after his terrific campaigns with Leicester and Chelsea, it is now time to add his brilliant aggression and tenacity to a France squad full of quality. What’s changed since the Euros is his improved quality on the ball. He has went from a very good destroyer, to a pretty good passer on the ball. With this clear improvement, it will add extra to an already well rounded defensive midfielder.

CM: Isco

Another player who was surprisingly left out of the last Spain squad. Even during that season, he was apart of the Madrid team that won La Decima. He has now transformed into one of the best attacking midfielders on the planet. His ability to find those small gaps, and use his close control ability to dribble past opposition players. He has been invaluable to Madrid in recent seasons. His contribution in front of goal had sky rocketed, and proved that staying and fighting for your place is the way to do it. When Verrati says that playing against Isco is harder than playing against Messi, that should tell you enough.

RW: Nabil Fekir

Another France player who didn’t have similar potential to other young players, Fekir has had the season of his life. Even with a horrific injury, he still was able to score 16 goals in the league. He is an absolutely powerful player who defines attacking at full speed. His place in the squad is completely deserved.

ST: Harry Kane

One of the best strikers in the world is going to his first world cup. Kane arrives as one of the most hotly anticipated players. With his future at Tottenham in slight doubt, clubs like Real Madrid might be watching this to see how he handles the big stage, to see if he is the Galactico they definetly need. Even though he didn’t get the golden boot, he still scored 30 goals, which puts him in the top 10 goalscorers in premier league history. He is leading the line for a very interesting England side. This could br his chance to show the world, just like Michael Owen.

LW: Mohammed Salah

Speaking of golden boots, Salah will be his countries hope in a competition they haven’t played in for 20 years. Salah is the talk of the world right now. With his record breaking season, and brilliant performances in Europe, everyone knows the name Mo Salah. He scored the winning penalty to send his country to Russia. He is able to handle the toughest of pressures. With him alone, they could go from scraping to get out the group, to getting to the quarterfinals.

The Last Straw! 5 Talking Points From Manchester United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

A disgrace all around. After this performance, I am now fully embracing the end of Jose Mourinho. It isn’t the fact that we lost. If it was that I would have wanted him out after we lost to city last season if I was that simple, but it’s more than. So I will go through everything that frustrated me in this game and why it links to the hopeful end of Jose Mourinho, and actually who I want to bring in as his replacement

The Line Up

Out of all the games Jose didn’t play a 4-2-3-1 it wasn’t this one. He stuck with mostly the same time as our big victory over city. The big changes being Lindelof for Bailly, and Mata for Lingard. The issue is we needed a clear number 10 in a game like this. I understand to not change what is not broken, but adapting is something else. This a game that Lingard would have excelled in. He would be able been able to get between their poor team’s midfield and slow defence and do what he usually does, quick interplay to move the ball further forward. It made us so predictable without him. Herrera overall is not great on the ball, Pogba is relied on too much to create, and Matic’s job is to not create, and is to just sit infront of our defence. Playing a 4-2-3-1 doesn’t always work, but it has its place, and against teams like this, we need a player just behind the striker. They didn’t offer anything going forward, so playing Herrera was not needed. A 4-3-3 would work better if we had another centre midfielder who was able to at least create or dictate play. Without that certain player it is hard for Pogba to go forward or drift to the left if he also has to stay centrally. Moving on from the midfield, the forwards weren’t exactly the best choice. This is the game where Martial had to start. Putting a guy who is willing to make runs and actually run to the by-line. I don’t understand why we sign Sanchez if it involves dropping Martial. I have mentioned this multiple times but it still stands. Martial was contributing a goal contribution per game (0.6 goals and 0.3 assists). He was playing at his peak. His reward for his great form was to get dropped for a player we just signed. It was terrible management by Mourinho. Let’s compare it to the signing of Lucas Moura. I understand there is a difference in quality here. But Pochetino has been patient in using him. He doesn’t want to ruin a perfectly fine foundation and it’s giving him time to learn what are the player’s strengths and weaknesses. Instead Mourinho just threw him in and hopes he sticks. Sanchez has mostly been poor so it is crazy how Jose has not dropped in for more games. Mourinho needs to take blame for not only picking the wrong team, and also for not handling his players in the right way. I wouldn’t even blame Martial for leaving. He deserves better than the position he is in.

The Substitutions

They make sense in concept, but in execution they were so wrong. Taking Herrera off for Lingard was a fine change, but taking off Pogba for Martial? I agree that Martial should have came on, but for Sanchez, not for Pogba. Pogba was poor and I won’t deny that, but he took off the midfield. It meant that we had to resort to longballs, against a team that usually defends well against them. It was so school boy. They were changes you make on FIFA, not in a professional game. I thought Martial did okay, and Rashford wasn’t given enough time. The three changes looked positive, but were made for the wrong players.

Poor build up play

I’ll try my best to sum up how Manchester United play. Pass the ball to Pogba or Lingard, hit it to the wings, the full back will usually put a cross in, and will usually be a poor cross. There just seems to be no plan when we play. We rely so much on individual magic from Pogba, Martial, Rashford or Lukaku. If we sell any of these players we can wish a title challenge a big goodbye. They are so talented and the fact three of them are being linked with moves away is frightening. We are so slow and lackluster when transitioning the ball it is laughable. We are unbelievably lucky to be second. If it wasn’t for Liverpool being on and off, Spurs struggling in big games, and Chelsea being a mess. We would not be near top four. We need a manager who will help us play as a team.

My choice

I would personally go for Luis Enrique. Out of the available managers, he seems the most ambitious. I want a manager who will take us in a good direction. He will help us move the ball better in a more fluid and fast way, while also getting the best out of our talented players. He made one of the best teams in recent years with that treble winning team. The only issue for me is the defensive side of it. I think Mourinho has been terrible this season, and mostly in defence. Enrique’s first responsibility would be to sort that defence out. Either sort Lindelof out, and give him a consistent run, or buy a player who would be able to help organise the back. He would need to get out full backs moving better, our midfield more balanced, and mostly just to play with a bit more arrogance. I don’t think he will be appointed. But it would be my dream scenario

Title Winners

Congrats to Manchester City for winning the league. I do not buy into all the praise they get. I do think they have been phenomenal, but more of lack of competition as well. I will never call this current team one of the greats, unless they retain the title. That is what proves what a great team is. One who not only wins it, but holds it.

5 Talking Points from Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United

Oh what a comeback! That first half was another shocking performance, but that second half was incredible. So let’s go through that complete emotional rollercoaster

A Terrible 45 Minutes

Before going into the good stuff, let’s just go through how truly terrible that first half was. We looked unorganized, lacking ambition, and most of all, not interested. I truly believe that we have the worst defence out of the top 5. Even though De Gea has kept the most clean sheets in the league, we also face the most shots per game. It shows when watching that first half again. So many times we just let them come towards us and play their game. Mourinho seems to believe that this is the way to defend, and he might be right. But when we have players who seem unable to defend, it is impossible to make any system work. Valencia, Young, Bailly and Smalling were all tragic in the first 45 minutes. Valencia seemed desperate to ruin any shape we tried to have, Sterling put Young on a plate multiple times, Smalling was at clear fault for the first goal, and even Bailly was giving the ball away in stupid. It was poor all around and just continues to remind me how poor that back four is as a unit. I still argue that Liverpool have a better defence than united, while we have kept more clean sheets (thanks to a certain Spaniard), Liverpool do not allow opposition teams to take many shots. If their keepers were more consistent, they would easily be the third best team in the country. Another issue that seemed to continue was United in general struggling to move the ball. It was classic Mourinho, send long diagonal balls to Lukaku and hope that he is able to win the header. The issue here was the balls given to him were consistently poor. Even if Lukaku was closer, there was no one close enough to win the second ball. I do never want to see such a poor first half ever again by Manchester United, especially against our second biggest rivals.

Dealing with Fernandinho

The Brazilian has continually been the cog to this phenomenonal team, and to deal with him, is the key to dealing with city. In the first half United used Lukaku to shadow Fernandinho, but because the Belgian also had to put pressure on Otamendi and Kompany, this didn’t work. Matic also came out to pressure the Brazilian, but this also didn’t work. When he did this, it left Herrera and Pogba to cover for him, and with those two sitting further back, it gave more space for Gundogan and Silva to move and receive the ball. In the second half however, there was one slight adjustment made. Herrera would go further back to make a back 5, so if a player would step out to Fernandinho, it wouldn’t leave United as exposed. A smart move to nullify a player who is capable of moving City much further up the pitch.

Sanchez improvement

Since signing from Arsenal, it is safe to say Alexis hasn’t been an instant success, but the second half shown the quality of player we have at the club. One of my biggest issues with Sanchez has actually been on the ball. He seems to miss time his passes, resulting in United losing possession. This could have been a result of only signing recently, meaning he still isn’t on the same wave length as his teammates yet. His performance on Saturday was a definite showing of how good he is. Mourinho said after the game he wasn’t happy with Lingard and Sanchez in that first half, and wanted them to come closer to Lukaku, which they definitely did. Sanchez started to move more towards the middle, giving Danilo a much harder task, and had an involvement in 3 of United’s goals. The Chilean managed to create 5 chances, more than any other player for United on the day. The ball for Pogba’s header was inch perfect. It was a delivery we expect from a player of his calibre. It is great to see him finally showing why we were so happy to sign him.

Pogba’s Payback

But of course the biggest talking point is the performance of a certain Frenchman. Pogba in the second half was everything we needed in one of our biggest players. But let’s begin with his first half. In all honesty I didn’t think he was as bad as everyone else. He was at least trying to move the ball up the field, even though it did end in failure. It was incredible to see him change that much. It was the first time all season we have seen him run into these dangerous positions, to remind us why he scored so many for Juventus. It is still up for debate whether he decided to do this himself or if Mourinho gave him these instructions. The manager did say after the game that he was happy with the midfield, so it can be safely assumed Pogba decided himself. He is turning into a real character, and especially, a leader. A leader is something that cannot be bought, but made. Most importantly he scored two good and important goals to put us back into the game, against I team I despise from the bottom of my heart. But for me the best thing he did was give Otamendi a proper hard tackle. It was something that wouldn’t even be questioned if Keano or Scholes did the same thing. A choice to waste more time and to remind city that he is there. A show of pure passion and desire. Rumours and criticism of Pogba isn’t deserved. He has struggled recently, but we all know he can become a truly brilliant player at United, and let’s hope he continues

The Party Ruined

Oh the smile on my face when seeing all those city fans miserable at full time. At the end of the day the Champions League is more important for City. They have a tough game against Liverpool and need their bigger players ready for it. But they have also missed a one in a million chance. That being winning the title in front of their rivals. I’m glad they didn’t win, but they still have this title wrapped up. If City lose to Liverpool though, I do think they have underperformed this season, which will be explained if that happens.

Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United Player Ratings

David De Gea – 6/10

Could have definitely done better for the equaliser but overall an average game from the greatest

Victor Lindelof – 4/10

Was out of position and was noticeably bad. Looked uncomfortable and even worse than at centre back. Valencia’s return couldn’t come quicker

Phil Jones – 5/10

At blame for the first goal, should have made more of an effort and overall wasn’t at his best.

Chris Smalling – 4/10

I don’t care if you’re injured, you need to do better in that situation instead of just being lazy. Just poor. But overall a below par game again from Smalling

Ashley Young – 4/10

At blame for the first goal as well and didn’t even do the think he’s most useful at, going forward.

Nemanja Matic – 6/10

Started very slowly but did eventually get into the game, that mistake at the end did cost us. He should have not just passed to someone offside

Paul Pogba – 6/10

Definitely had his moments but consistently wasn’t all there. Wasn’t bad from the our french super star.

Juan Mata – 9/10

Great performance from our Spanish playmaker today. Did everything right and even kept us in the game and gave us the lead. Not at fault for anything and deserved the 90 minutes

Jesse Lingard – 6/10

Had a decent enough game but that miss really should not have been a miss.

Tony Martial – 5/10

Was relatively quite and also missed a chance that should have been a goal

Romelu Lukaku – 8/10

Perfect all round work rate and build up play. Should have has two assists.

Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth Player Ratings

Much better from the reds today so let’s go through the player ratings

David De Gea – 8

Brilliant from our keeper today. Kept plenty of shots out and without him as usual the score would have been much different.

Antonio Valencia – 8

A typical Valencia performance. Defended brilliantly and was involved plenty going forward. Just a shame he still can’t cross a ball.

Chris Smalling – 6

He did okay, but he did make a few mistakes that could have been worse, had our other defenders not bail him out.

Phil Jones – 8

Made plenty of tackles and interceptions and rushed back to defend when needed. Was reliable as ever.

Luke Shaw – 8

He had a brilliant game. Got forward and made so many good runs and was very lively. Also did well defensively. Just needs to keep this up.

Nemanja Matic – 8

Defended brilliantly and was there when needed to keep Bournemouth from progressing too far too often. He was good on the ball as well.

Scott McTominay – 8

For only his second start he sure did play it like it was his 50th. Did everything right and nothing wrong. Very Darren Fletcher like performance from his very compatriot.

Juan Mata – 7

Was tidy on the ball and got involved plenty. Picked the perfect pockets of space to exploit. Definitely looks better on the right.

Jesse Lingard – 6

Wasn’t great from Jesse today but he did put his usual shift in and played some tidy passes

Tony Martial – 6

He had an okay game but he missed a sitter and I can’t forget that.

Romelu Lukaku – 7

Put himself about and was a nuisance for the defenders. Build up play was brilliant but no one was making runs to give him options.

Substitutions

Marcus Rashford – 7

Was very lively and had one great shot saved from the woodwork

Ander Herrera – 7

Put himself about and was the best he’s played in a long time

Ashley Young – 5

Wasn’t on long enough to rate.

5 Talking Points from Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth

Another game I actually went to see. Besides the great seats and atmosphere, the game wasn’t great to watch. But many players did stand out. So let’s talk about it

Return of Shaw

The biggest talking point would have to be a great performance from Luke Shaw. I have been constantly wining about Ashley Young starting for united, because he isn’t good enough to be starting for us. But seeing Shaw play at his best just shows what a real left back is. He didn’t a foot wrong and was incredible going forward. He was able to give united another option and works so well with Martial. It might limit the Frenchman’s options but having another man on the wing can always help. If Mourinho knows anything about football then Shaw should get more minutes. He definitely deserves it.

A Shining Scott

With more games means more players being given a chance. Nothing makes me happier than a player from the academy given a chance in the premier league. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen McTominay. In fact he’s played in most competitions this season, but this was his first start in the league. I’ve been complaining about Herrera and Matic not working as a partnership and Mourinho not trying something different during Pogba’s absence, but this time he did and it definitely paid off. McTominay was very good. He didn’t nothing wrong, while not doing anything spectacular. He just did everything right. I thought him and Matic both had great games. They both were very good defensively and especially McTominay. Near the end of the game he had the crowd on their feet. He was making some crunch tackles in the opposition half to keep us moving. He even was making late runs to give Lukaku some options. Something that was lacking throughout the game from the team. I think Scott has done enough to earn his manager’s trust and hopefully get more games.

A Solid Jones

Phil Jones can be credited for making sure Bournemouth didn’t get more chances. He did the usual Phil Jones, but his body on the line to make sure the ball didn’t go in. He has been one of our better defenders this season and him making a return will be a huge boost.

A change of formation

Another game, another slow performance in the 4-2-3-1. Without Pogba this formation just doesn’t work. It focuses on one creative force. Without the Frenchman it can’t work. Mourinho can keep trying but it just doesn’t work. We were solid defensively but weren’t great in the final third. We were slow and didn’t pick the right passes. Decision making in general wasn’t great and needs improvement. However the last time we lost to city we kept losing, so I’d prefer this then losing.

A risky Bournemouth

Credit to the Cherries, they did try. Usually I get frustrated seeing teams come to Old Trafford and not even try to attack. Bournemouth had a few chances and to be fair they have done much better than most teams have done this season. I don’t think they’ve been great this season mainly because of how easy they are to open up. Nothing was different here.

Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City Player Ratings

Never done this before but let’s give it a go

David De Gea – 7

Couldn’t do much about the goals but was great when called upon. He made a good save for De Bryune and another against Sane. Best Keeper in the world for a reason

Antonio Valencia – 5

Didn’t deal with Sane at all and gave the ball away too much. He was good going forward as usual but overall a very below par performance from the captain

Chris Smalling – 4

Wasn’t at the races at all. Jesus and Sterling got through him and his partner constantly and just couldn’t deal with them at all. Just shouldn’t have started at all.

Marcus Rojo – 5

Put in some challenges but was reckless and was lucky to not get worse than a yellow. Another below par game from him

Ashley Young – 4

It was shambolic how much space Sterling was given. Everyone knows I am not the biggest fan of Young and this game continues to show it. Didn’t offer enough going forward and he should have been better as one of our experienced players.

Nemanja Matic – 5

It was very clear that Matic was injured. Didn’t get into the game enough and couldn’t deal with the threat of City’s midfielders.

Ander Herrera – 5

These two just don’t work together in the slightest. Herrera did try but didn’t have enough quality on the ball, something we required from the Spaniard for this game.

Marcus Rashford – 5

Didn’t get the ball enough but did lose the ball whenever he did. He took his goal well but he just wasn’t great today.

Jesse Lingard – 7

He was tidy in possession and gave us a bit of quality. By far the only player who gave something on creativity. Our best outfield player on the day.

Anthony Martial – 4

Based on two things. He didn’t get involved in the game enough and he if he did he didn’t do the one thing he needed to do, run at Walker. He got an early card and he needed to be tested.

Romelu Lukaku – 4

His worst performance for United. Should have scored an easy chance near the end and was at fault for the goals.

Substitutions

Victor Lindelof – 5

He was alright when he came on and at least tried to move the ball up the field. Should have started in a back three instead of on the bench.

Zlatan – 5

Wasn’t on for long and didn’t make much of an impact

Juan Mata – 5

Wasn’t on long enough either. Can’t be rated in anyway way

5 Talking Points from Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

What a dreadful performance. This was the worst I’ve seen united since we drew against Celta Viga in the Europa League. It was awful and it might just have been the game where we gave City the league. So let’s go through the talking points

The Lukaku Criticism

The player clearly getting the most criticism from the fans. Most I think is justified. He should have scored that chance he had and should have done better on the set pieces. Those are why I think he was one of the worst players on the pitch, next to Young, Smalling and Martial. Many have said since he costed £75m he should score with every chance. This is complete nonsense. When I think of the best strikers around I think of Cavani, Lewandowski and Icardi. These players normally score one in every four shots. Strikers need a lot of creativity to get chances. I’ve already mentioned how bad Zlatan was at scoring goals last season and it just shows how stupid some fans are. I still like Lukaku. I would have been fine with him, Morata or Belotti. They’re all great strikers and as long as they play great I’m fine. Yes he is in some bad form but in these big games he’s had zero creativity. Without Pogba we offer nothing in creativity. It’s an area in the squad we need to fix. Lukaku will score over 20 goals this season. It just depends if Pogba is fit and if our other players actually decide to chip in. I do think his criticism in this game was definitely justified, but some of the things said about were definitely an over exaggeration.

The Game Plan

Simple question, what was the plan? By the team sheet one would assume we were ready to play on the break, but we were constantly hitting long balls and transitioning slowly. Sometimes we’d hit the ball into the channels, and then play some short passes. It was as if we didn’t know what we were doing. The midfield is still the reason why we are so bad without Pogba. Herrera just isn’t good enough to pass the ball in long distances and Matic doesn’t usually do this job. Mourinho has tried this so many times and still doesn’t realise it doesn’t work. Just play Mata or McTominay in midfield. An extra man would help us move up the pitch quicker and help dominate. Mourinho didn’t set up correctly.

Poor on set pieces

The way I thought we could beat city turned out to be our downfall. We were all over the place and was quite surprising. In a Mourinho team I expect much better organisation when defending a set piece, but instead we had David Silva being allowed to run and Lukaku giving a dreadful clearance. It was just the worst way to lose.

Lingard performs again

Mentioning De Gea as our best player isnt a surprise, but Lingard isn’t far behind him. He made some tidy passes and set up Lukaku for a good chance. He has been great recently and can come out of this game with a bit of dignity. I love Jesse and hopefully continues to perform. He has such a pretty way of playing.

City weren’t great, but won

City haven’t been great at all recently, but they keep winning. I do think labelling this as title mentality is stupid. They’ve just been below par. They’ve definitely been better but they still were quick, clinical, and just horrible to defend. Pep has made this team hard to beat as well as beautiful to watch. I hate them for personal reasons but I still have to give credit where credit is due.

5 Talking points from Manchester United 1-0 Spurs

Another game where we were just bad and still got the three points, but in this situation it was needed. Spurs were on level points after our horror show down in Yorkshire, so a win was needed. Let’s go through the talking points.

A New Formation

United for the first time this season played a 3-4-1-2, and for the most part it didn’t work. From Mourinho’s perspective it would make sense. It gives you a solid defence to work from and have 2 upfront, which I just love. It did seem like the formation was still new for the players, but overall is was enough to clinch the win. We still did get out ran in the midfield but Spurs didn’t take advantage of it. The more this formation is used the more the players will adapt. It’s great to have multiple because it helps deal with different oppositions, like Chelsea next week.

Ashley Young isn’t good enough

It’s as simple as that. Many after the game were saying he was the best player on the pitch, and it makes me wonder which game they were watching. Ashley Young did irritate Dele Alli, a player who was just being a pathetic child, to another level. But he was so poor on the ball. On one occasion he lost the ball in his own and could have gave spurs a chance to score. It just seems a premier league winning player doesn’t know when to run with it or to pass. It worries me that the left back situation is this bad were playing Ashley Young there, in 2017. It just amazes me. This is an issue we needed to fix in the summer but just didn’t. When we don’t have a consistent player in a position it makes the whole team unsettled. Instead of buying a left back we decided to spend £38m on Lindelof, when we already have a player in the academy who is ready and is better than him. I just have to question why this position wasn’t sorted out by now.

The Rashford and Martial team

These two are a real double act! I thought Rashford was our best player until he was taken off. I should have been a little annoyed, but I just knew Martial was going to score. Spurs were so poor at this stage of the game that it was so easy for United to just get the goal, and ensure the win.

No Quality

The biggest complaint as usual is the midfield. After 3 games now it still doesn’t work. Matic and Herrera just seem to not work at all. They both have no chemistry and don’t give us enough strength in the midfield and offer nothing going forward. Both Matic and Herrera are great players but just terrible together. Pogba or Fellaini seem to work better together with either Matic or Herrera. It’s an issue that can’t be resolved until the injury situation is gone.

Kane’s injury isn’t an excuse

Many spurs fans and pundits will all say united only won because of Kane’s injury. It amazes me after 4 years now that is still a reason for a lack of success from Spurs. They’ve had years to resolve their status as a one man team but fail to do so. They bought Llorente when the logical choice was to buy Iheanacho. To question Spurs’s over reliance on Kane is to question their transfer policy. They should have solved this issue the summer when they realised they had no other option. While the lily-whites were poor going forward, they also were poor defensively. For Martial’s goal the Spurs defence turned off completely, giving Lukaku and Martial the chance to get involved in the game. Spurs could have easily got something out of this game, but according to the pundits, press and basically everyone, apparently a draw away at a rival is a bad result, when in reality it isn’t.