West Ham vs Manchester United: 5 things we learnt

Manchester United came away from London Stadium with all three points courtesy of a last-minute penalty save from David de Gea. So let’s take a look at five things we learnt from this league win over West Ham.

1.Ronaldo continues scoring streak

Cristiano Ronaldo now has four goals in three games since his return to United. The 36-year-old was in fine form against the Hammers. Throughout the game he was a constant threat. During the first half, the Red Devils were playing in second gear. When, Said Benrahma gave West Ham the lead, Solskjaer’s men sprung into life. Immediately, the Portuguese striker got the Reds back on level terms. United’s number seven got on the receiving end of an inviting Bruno Fernandes cross. Despite, Fabianski’s best efforts, Ronaldo converted the rebound after his initial shot was saved.

Ronaldo’s second half was extremely controversial. The Portugal captain got in behind the West Ham backline on multiple occasions. However, he was brought down on numbers occasions inside the box. Martin Atkinson didn’t award United a penalty and did not even go to the VAR monitor. However, United and Ronaldo came away from the London Stadium with all three points.

2. Lingard proves doubters wrong

Jesse Lingard was the villian after United’s shocking defeat to Young Boys. However, just days later the Old Trafford faithful were praising him for his match-winning goal. Lingard, 28, spent last season on loan to West Ham and had a very successful spell. This summer it was expected that this move would become permanent. Furthermore, in the last few years, Lingard has found it hard to get into the United team and a move away from the club was seen as the best solution for all parties. But, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to keep the attacking midfielder.

The Englishman was brought on in the late stages of the game. Lingard brought some great energy and tempo to United’s play. The tiring West Ham defenders could not keep up with his movement. In the 89th minute Matic found Lingard in acres of space. Lingard cut inside and effortlessly put the ball into the top corner. The away end went wild. Jesse didn’t celebrate fully out of respect to the West Ham fans. This alone illustrated how Lingard has matured as a player.

3. De Gea back to his best

David de Gea has had his fair share of criticism over the last few years. However, the Spaniard has been back to his best this season. Agaisnt Southampton, Wolves and West Ham, de Gea has won United points on his own. The keeper is full of confidence and seems to be working on some of his weaknesses. For example, it is clear to see strong improvements in his distribution. There was nothing de Gea could do to prevent United from going a goal down. Benrahmas inital effort was heading towards the right corner, but deflected off Varane into the bottom left corner.

David de Gea who had a relatively quiet afternoon was called into action in the last kick of the game. Penalty-expert Mark Noble was brought on to rescue a point for the Hammers. Twelve yards out it was Noble versus de Gea. The Spanish keeper is not known for his penalty saving ability, in which his last spot kick save came in 2016. Noble went right and so did de Gea who got a firm hand behind the ball. Seconds later and the entire United team and staff were on the pitch to congratulate David de Gea, who ultimately saved United from dropping points.

4. Ole gets the subs spot on against West Ham

In the midweek Champions League game against Young Boys Solskjaer was heavily criticised for his substitutions. In this game, Solskjaer brought in the right players at the right time. His substitutions brought energy and swung the game in United’s favour. Solskjaer brought on Sancho and Lingard for Pogba and Greenwood. The latter both had exceptional first half displays, but their influence on the game was lost in the second half. The pair don’t offer natural width, whereas Sancho is more of an out and out winger who does. This then allowed for Shaw to venture further forward.

Solskjaer’s last change was Matic for Fred. Although, Matic doesn’t have the legs anymore he still takes more risks than Fred in possession. Whenever, Matic is on the ball he looks forward and this was shown during United’s winner. Matic got on the ball and found Lingard in a pocket of space. The two subs combined to give United the crucial three points.

5. United’s away run continues against West Ham

Manchester United are now unbeaten in 29 consecutive Premier League away games. This is the longest ever run without defeat away in the English league history. This is a remarkable statistic, which shows the progress this side has made. Last season United would often go one goal down away from home before making a comeback. This season it is imperative that United don’t keep going behind as the returning fans will give the home team a boost. This amazing away run began during lockdown when there were no fans, in which United were better away than at home. Moreover, this season it is likely that the Reds are stronger at home than away. But there is no reason why United can’t keep this impressive run going.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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