Manchester United edge past Norwich City in the Emirates FA Cup quarter finals at Carrow road. All thanks to a late extra time winner by captain Harry Maguire. With this win Manchester United are into the semis and will face Chelsea as the blues defeated Leicester City yesterday.
Overall, Manchester United were below par and the performance was far from their best. With several players looking rusty and also playing their first competitive match since lockdown. Let’s look at some talking points from the match.
Good game for Ighalo
The Nigerian striker had a good game scoring the first goal and also getting some valuable match time under his belt. Ighalo started the match and played the full 120mins of the match as well. He looked quite good in positioning himself well to be delivered with passes. But he failed to receive much support due to lack of creativity in the midfield other than Bruno.
After Ole made his last substitute in the extra time, United had Ighalo, Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Pogba and Bruno on the field. All pushing for that final goal. And Ighalo tried his best to get into poaching areas.
United started the game with Fred, McTominay and Bruno in the midfield. With Bruno playing as an attacking midfielder. Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard started in both wings respectively.
McTominay, Bruno and Lingard combined well in the midfield to create United’s initial chances. As the game went on, the contributions from Mata, Fred and Lingard got deteriorated. And till the time Pogba came in place of Fred, Bruno was the only player from the midfield who was creating chances. Even after Bruno had a bad outing comparatively as he lost possession several times. Lingard was invisible even after starting the game quite well.
After Pogba came in, both Bruno and Pogba started creating chances as United started pushing all guns blazing for that second goal to kill the game. And finally managed to get the winner at the 118th minute which included a brilliant pass by Pogba.
Lacking Squad Depth
This match showed us that we lack squad depth and we need to strengthen our bench if we are to challenge for the league title in the future.
Looking at the stiff schedule, Ole decided to give starts to players like Ighalo, Mata, Lingard, Dalot, and Bailly. All these players had their first starts since lockdown. Only Ighalo and Bailly were used as substitutes in the Premier League. This decision from the manager seemed to backfire as Mata, Lingard and Dalot had a game to forget. And later on, Ole needed his regular starting players to again stepup and get them the win. Which was added pressure on them looking at the Premier League schedule.
This implies we need major reinforcements in the summer not only in the first team, but as reserves as well. As players like Mata and Lingard look to have passed their prime, though Lingard is still under his 30s.
On the other hand, Dalot doesn’t fit to play in-place of Wan Bissaka when the manager wants squad rotation. Though he is very young, Dalot doesn’t yet look ready to be a Manchester United first team player.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became the first manager in English football history to make six substitutions in a single match. Ole earlier became the first manager to make five substitutions at once during their Premier League match against Sheffield.
During this match, Ole made six substitutions and all contributed to the team’s win. Some notable names were Pogba, Williams, Greenwood and Rashford who were all top notch. In addition, Brandon Williams played off his favoured position as a right back and did quite well.
Userly not a performance that was expected by Manchester United against a team that is fighting relagation. Maybe the first competitive appearance of several players might have been the difference. Yet, if the team wants to finish 4th or higher in the league including a FA Cup and a Europa League, then every player has to step up and give his best for the team. You can’t always depend on a specific set of players to win you every match, especially during such a stiff schedule.
What do you guys think about United’s performance? Who was your best player from the match? Do let us know your thoughts.
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