Manchester United vs Crystal Palace 5 Things We Learnt

Manchester United continued their fine pre season form with a 3-1 win over Premier League side Crystal Palace in Melbourne. Anthony Martial got himself on the scoresheet once again, netting the opener in this encounter. Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho then got in on the action in the second half to seal the victory.

Joel Ward did get a goal back for Palace, however this was merely a consolation. So let’s take a look at five things we learnt from this pre season match.

1. Martial finds the back of the net again

During pre-season, Anthony Martial has been in scintillating form. The Frenchman has found his shooting books and has been performing at an extremely high level. Martial began this game brightly and was at the heart of all of United’s attacks. He hit one over the bar from range before testing Butland, who made a fingertip save to deny him.

The forwards pressing and general linkup play would have caught the eye of Reds boss Erik ten Hag. Martial has also brought out the best of Sancho and Rashford with the trio looking more confident every game. The front three seem to be on the same wavelength and look particularly dangerous during transitions.

Martial, 26, opened the scoring with a close range finish, after getting on the end of Dalot’s looping cross. The striker expertly controlled the ball before finding the back of the net with ease. Majestic movement and a poachers finish from United’s number nine.

Martial played a significant role in all three goals. For the second goal, he brought down the ball with ease and made a direct run into the box. Sancho found him and unselfishly Martial opted against the shot and gave it to Donny van de Beek.

The Dutchman then found Rashford, who buried it from close range. A brilliant team goal, which was reminiscent of the many goals Ajax scored under Ten Hag. Martial then got an assist to cap his spectacular performance.

He sent Sancho through on goal and the Englishman made no mistakes. Martial was taken off around the hour mark with the majority of the players who started the match. Another impressive display from Martial.

2. Ten Hag’s philosophy already showing against Palace

Having only been training with the United squad for a few weeks, Ten Hag has already given the Reds a new identity. On a tactical level there is already clear system in place. This coincides with Ten Hag’s demanding and distinctive man management, which has led to the drastic resurrection of the form of many of the United players.

In this game, the Reds set up in a vertical 4-3-3. The two fullbacks, Dalot and Malacia, were very high up the field, meaning Fred came to collect possession from the defenders. This meant Fernandes and McTominay could occupy spaces behind the Palace midfield. At times both fullbacks became inverted and this is something the Old Trafford faithful might see more of this season.

Not only has the Reds boss implemented a tactical style, he has also introduced some fundamental habits. The players now hunt the ball in numbers and try to keep the ball in play as much as possible. They commit to every duel and get stuck into the opposition.

In terms of their general play, the Reds Devils look much more confident and comfortable in possession. They are fitter, sharper and more direct. With new additions expected to come in, the Reds could be in for a very promising season.

3. Fullbacks combine against Palace

Dalot was given the nod over Wan-Bissaka for the third game in a row, while new signing Malacia was given his first start. Both fullbacks put in impressive displays and seem to be adhering to Ten Hag’s style of play.

The two young fullbacks are comfortable on the ball and this was shown early on with a few switches to the opposite flanks. They both have great acceleration and are dangerous when they get into the final third. Evidently, their attacking prowess can be seen in the build up for the first goal.

Malacia found himself in the final third and with his weaker foot switched the play to the opposite flank. Under pressure, Dalot brought it down and on his weaker foot, swung the ball back into the box. His inviting delivery found its way to Martial and the Reds were 1-0 up.

The pair had an instrumental impact in this goal and their involvement in the final third was clearly something Ten Hag has got them to work on in training. Throughout the game, both fullbacks were defensively solid, but at the same time they looked to go forward at every opportunity.

4. Forward line growing in confidence

The standout of United’s pre-season so far has got to be the front four. Martial, Rashford, Sancho and Fernandes just compliment each other so well. Fans of the Red Devils thought they would see this front four a lot more last season, however this pre season has been the first time these four players have all started.

After every game, the understanding grows between these four. This front-line could cause a lot of damage to Premier League defences if all four stay fit throughout the season. In the second goal all four were in action.

Rashford and Fernandes played a one-two, before the Portuguese playmaker sent a long pass towards Martial. The Frenchman then did a one-two with Sancho before finding van de Beek who put it on a plate for Rashford. The dynamic movement was absolutely brilliant and left Palace chasing shadows.

Throughout the game, these four interchanged and created many issues for the Eagles. Seamlessly, Martial would drop deep and Fernandes would run into the vacated space. Likewise, Sancho and Rashford would occasionally swap sides to cause even more confusion across the opposition backline.

5. Maguire impresses against Palace

Ten Hag has suggested that Harry Maguire will play a significant role in his side next season. It is likely that Maguire will be put on the right alongside new signing Martinez, who is more comfortable on the left. In order for this to become a formidable defensive partnership, Maguire must continue to perform at a high level like he did in this encounter.

Despite being booed every time he touched the ball, Maguire put in a solid performance. United’s skipper won his aerial duels and won his battles against Ayew and Mateta who had no impact on proceedings. The defender read the game well alongside Victor Lindelof, who has also been in fine form this pre-season.

Maguire’s exceptional passing also caught the eye. On numerous occasions the centre back would play a pinpoint, diagonal pass to either flank. This created space in the middle of pitch for Fernandes, McTominay, van de Beek and Iqbal, who all operated in number eight positions.

Maguire almost got himself on the scoresheet in the first half, when he combined with Martial in the penalty area. However, his effort sailed just wide of the target. A decent display from Maguire, but it is imperative that he continues this form.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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