|Image from the Independent|
Massive win for Manchester United as they push past Spurs and Sheffield United to fifth place and only three points from Chelsea in fourth. A 3-0 win at Old Trafford against relegation strugglers, Watford put Manchester United into a glorious position for Champions League football but know that they must continue their good run and will have to be at their best in what will be a tough run of matches in which away trips to Everton and Spurs as well as home matches to Manchester City and Sheffield United will determine their season. Here is how it happened:
Manchester United made six changes to the stuttering performance against Club Brugge with De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Fernandes, James and Greenwood coming in and Romero, Williams and Mata on the bench, Dalot not in the 18 and Lingard and Pereira not even with the travelling squad! Shows how much Solskjaer thought of their performances. As for Watford, with fifteen days since their draw with Brighton, made only one change with Mariappa swapped for Craig Dawson at right back and Ismaila Sarr back on the bench after an injury.
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Shaw, Matic, Fred, Greenwood, Fernandes, James, Martial
Foster, Dawson, Cabasele, Cathcart, Masina, Hughes, Capoue, Deulofeu, Doucoure, Pereyra, Deeney
Manchester United started sluggishly and lost possession several times and David de Gea was forced into an early save from Abdoulaye Doucoure but as the game grew on, Manchester United grew into the game and Daniel James fed Bruno Fernandes down the left hand side and the Portuguese playmaker rounded Foster and was brought down by the goalkeeper and Manchester United were awarded a 10th Premier League penalty of the season. The highest number of penalties recieved in one season is 12 with several teams including United in 2018/19 and Liverpool in 2013/14 and United are likely to overtake this stat. Bruno Fernandes took it upon himself and scored an ice-cool penalty with a skip and opened his account for Manchester United in style. The first half finished with a flurry of half chances and Fernandes orchestrating most of them but Watford were not done yet.
In the second half, Watford put a lot of pressure on United to get the equaliser and thought they had with a messy goal from a corner that was bundled in by Troy Deeney but after a VAR call, Manchester United were saved by the review as the ball seemed to hit Craig Dawson’s arm and thus the goal was ruled out. Manchester United kept looking for the second goal and found it through a piece of individual brilliance from Anthony Martial who, after having his original shot saved by Foster, kept on his feet and danced past a few players before chipping the goalkeeper for his 44th Premier League goal and his 15th of the season in all competitions. United kept attacking and controlled possession well and the defence marshalled Deeney, Deulofeu and Pereyra very well and United found a third from a counter driven by Mason Greewood and the youngster played the ball to Fernandes who returned it to the striker and Greenwood hammered the ball into the roof of the net. A superb goal from a superb talent. United made three changes at once with McTominay making his first appearance of 2020 and Ighalo and Chong getting extra minutes to rest Martial, Fred and Greenwood for the week to come. Ighalo almost made an immediate impact as he pounced on a weak backpass and rounded Foster but his effort from a narrow angle was blocked by Massina expertly. Deulofeu almost got a goal back but hit the bar and United ended the game with a third Premier League clean sheet in a row since this time last year and will hope for a similar performance at home to Club Brugge on Thursday.
David de Gea 7.5/10
Composed on the ball and made a big save to deny Doucoure. Another clean sheet for the Spaniard and will need to be at his best in the next few weeks with big games to come.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka 7/10
Solid at the back and brought the ball forward well but did not create many chances.
Victor Lindelof 7.5/10
After a disastrous match at Vicarage Road this season, Lindelof redeemed himself against Troy Deeney and was composed and aggressive in his defending.
Harry Maguire 8/10
Dominant in the air and composed on the ball, switching play quickly to get the game going.
Luke Shaw 8/10
Defensively impressive and good on the ball too. Fewer crosses than expected as he played more like an inverted fullback but made some good runs to make space.
Nemanja Matic 7/10
A bit sloppy at times but his aggression was desperately needed in midfield today and he may be rested against Club Brugge as it will be needed again at Goodison.
Got the ball rolling in midfield but lost possession a few times and missed a decent chance to double his United goal tally. Taken off for the Europa League and I fully expect him to start.
Mason Greenwood 8.5/10
Played the ball smartly at times and can play hold-up play as well. Fantastic finish and was RVP-esque. His 10th goal of the season and has shown how good he can be.
Bruno Fernandes 9/10
Lovely penalty and outstanding chance creation as he was everywhere on the pitch. He got the ball moving forwards and was world class thoughout the game. He has fit into this side exceptionally well and will only improve as he gets more games and I can only imagine his impact with the returns of Rashford, Pogba and McTominay.
Daniel James 7/10
Made things difficult with his pace and incisive pass to Fernandes for the penalty. He may start against Brugge but given he played the full 90, it is likely he will come from the bench on Thursday.
Anthony Martial 8/10
Great finish and good build-up play throughout the game. He is on fire right now and I back him to score against Brugge too. Long may this form continue.
Odion Ighalo 6.5/10
Good hold up play and almost scored his first goal.
Tahith Chong 5/10
Good bursting runs but ought to have set Ighalo up for a debut goal.
Scott McTominay 6.5/10
Controlled play well and did not put a foot wrong for the short time he was on. Will likely start against Club Brugge and feature for an hour or so in his fitness development.