Manchester United vs Everton – 5 things we learned

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Rafa Benitez’s Everton after Andros Townsend sent the ball in the back of the net in the second half.

Here are 5 things we learned from as the game progressed:

1) Anthony Martial might be injured

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named Anthony Martial in the starting XI despite facing criticism for it in the past. The crowd was also surprised to see that he was deployed at the LW rather than as a striker. Although, this time was different. Martial scored for the first time in 8 months following an assist from Bruno Fernandes. Martial was later seen limping as the match went into halftime. Jadon Sancho replaced him 11 minutes into the 2nd half which confirmed his injury.

2) Jadon Sancho is improving

(MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Jadon Sancho of Manchester United in action with Michael Keane of Everton during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on October 02, 2021, in Manchester, England. (Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Jadon Sancho displayed bright prospects after he replaced Anthony Martial. A lack of goal is still glaring but it’s certainly better to see him settling into the team more and more. Sancho added urgency to United’s attack when going in search of a winner. It is clear that his confidence is growing as he also made an impressive move against Ben Godfrey and was repeatedly trying to set up a goal. Sancho’s current performance can make him reliable for future matches.

3) Defence looked sloppy

Harry Maguire missed the match against Everton after he was injured in the last Premier League game against Aston Villa. As a result, the defence looked pretty sloppy. Individually, the performances were great. Raphael Varane made some great tackles and deflections and Victor Lindelof played somewhat better than his usual self (but lost in aerial tackles). Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both thrived by attacking the space out wide against Everton. They were also crucial in supplementing the makeshift attack in front of them. However, a linkup was missing amongst the defence and due to this, a lot of chances were created by the Everton side and they managed to score a goal in the second half.

4) 4-2-3-1 is back

Solskjaer went for a 4-3-3 in their match against Villareal in midweek but United was too open against counter-attack due to the lack of a Defensive Midfielder. As a result, he reverted back to 4-2-3-1 deploying McFred in the central midfield.

However, Demarai Gray was still able to find space between the lines at times. The formation resulted in more ball control in the second half but lacked any invention. Paul Pogba later replaced Fred as United searched for a winning goal after 70 minutes.

5)Cristiano Ronaldo is droppable

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not include Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting lineup against Everton. Edinson Cavani got his much-deserved start as he replaced Ronaldo in the Center Forward role and this gave us an insight into how Solskjaer will manage his squad. Ronaldo later replaced Cavani at 56 minutes. Bruno Fernandes is seemingly the only undroppable player in forwarding areas for United as it stands.

It will be a relief for the manager to know that when they rest Ronaldo, or if he becomes injured at his time at the club, he can rely on his wider squad to step up.

Home fixtures with Liverpool and Manchester City, plus tricky trips to Leicester and Tottenham will tell about United’s ability to challenge for the title deep into the season, something they looked like doing last term, only to fade in January.

Will Manchester United challenge for the title? Or will they settle for a 2nd place like the last season? Only time will tell.

Manchester United’s will face Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Saturday, 16 October (15:00 BST).

Author: Zeeshan