Another match day, another three points for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. Don’t get me wrong, we made hard work out of it but in the end it is the result that matters. With City winning their game deep into injury time, we absolutely had to beat Leicester. We started the game like we did last week but the goals just didn’t seem to come. However, both of Mourinho’s substitutes scored to give us a 2-0 victory and send us back on top of the table. Rashford scored from a corner and Fellaini scored from a Lingard assist in the 82nd minute which gave Lukaku, who had missed a penalty earlier on, some breathing space.
We dominated the game from the first whistle to the final whistle and constantly pressed Leicester while playing in their half for almost the entire game. Despite missing chances in the first half, the morale was high in the second half. We fed on the mistakes made by their fullbacks – Simpson and Fuchs, for our build-up play. The morale first seemed to dip when Lukaku’s penalty was saved by Schemichel, who was having a great game himself. Soon after, Mkhitaryan picked up an unnecessary yellow card and the heads seemed to drop. While glimpses of last season’s horrific home draws began to resurface, Jose nonchalantly brought on Rashford who scored less then three minutes later. His other two substitutes, Lingard(assist) and Fellaini(goal) contributed in making the scoreline more in proportion to the team’s performance.
One highlight of our performance is our backline. Valencia, Bailly, Jones and Blind have been immense at the back and we’re yet to concede a goal this season and we haven’t conceded a goal at home since April. This defense is, as rivals would say, annoyingly Mourinho. They may not be the best in the league, let alone the world, but the way they’re managed makes all the difference. Jones and Bailly doing all the out-muscling and interceptions while Valencia whips the crosses and Blind marks the rival’s target man, in today’s case – Mahrez. I’ve often complained about Blind that he always chooses the easier option but today he had a great game. Seamlessly made those forward runs and played crosses in their box. His crosses weren’t good at all but that’s a discussion for another day. As we know, Mourinho is a defense minded manager and our defense at the moment is a well oiled machine. And with Matic playing in front of the back four, it adds the extra protective layer that further reduces De Gea’s work.
The next highlight has got to be Pogba. As abundantly stated before, in this market, Paul Pogba looks like an absolute bargain. He had yet another brilliant game and came close to scoring on multiple occasions. The fact that Pogba had a great game today is saying something because the rest of our midfield seemed deflated by the 60th minute. The balls from midfield weren’t reaching Lukaku who kept throwing his arms in the air in disappointment. In the midst of all this, Pogba tirelessly collected the ball from our centre backs and kept playing them forward. Along with attacking duties, he did not miss out any defensive commitments. This goes to show that maybe, his perfect position is in the midfield pivot alongside Matic.
I did have one tiny concern, that our front four – Martial, Mkhitaryan, Mata and Lukaku, weren’t gelling well with each other. Many a time, Lukaku made his run but their was no through ball which would end up rendering him offside and hence remove a key player from our build up. On the other hand, Lukaku unselfishly helped in the build up, instead of pointlessly disappearing like how he did against Swansea.
So, that’s 3 wins out of 3, 10 goals and 0 conceded. These numbers are tempting but is it too soon to get happy? Of course it is. Even last season we were cruising until the first international break came along and then we just collapsed. The tough fixtures are a while away and this is the best time to build some momentum but let’s not get carried away. The season is long and rough but the best thing is that we have a competent manager and a competent squad with plenty of depth. Today’s game turned out to be a test of character in some ways and I’m glad we’ve passed it. So for now, onto Stoke!