Manchester United completed another massive and vital victory, this time against Liverpool, who had a big opportunity of going above Jose Mourinho’s side in the league if they had managed to pull off a win away at Old Trafford. Following the match, United are now five points ahead of Liverpool in the table.
Although there are still eight matches left to determine who will finish in the top four, it looks most likely that United have sealed their position within this ranking and potentially in second place, too. At the end of the day, this will be seen as a sign of progress going forward as a club.
Jose Mourinho got his tactics spot on within a big game
It’s easy to put the blame on the manager when his side lose or when he gets the tactics wrong, whilst the specific individuals within the starting line-up get away without any criticism. However, in this situation, Jose Mourinho’s so-called negative approach and style of play has got him important results too, which is the main reason to why he will never give up on them and it’s because those tactics have made him the successful manager that he is.
Against Liverpool, Mourinho saw a weakness or two in the opposition’s backline in Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold, which was exploited through the aerially-dominant Romelu Lukaku, as well as the acceleration and pace of Marcus Rashford. United were 2-0 up within the 30 minutes and also had the chance to put the game to bed through Juan Mata’s attempt that went just past the post.
Marcus Rashford bags a brace in his first league start of the year
Ahead of the game, many supporters including myself were wondering what type of influence Marcus Rashford would have against Liverpool, which was actually his first league start of the year. Nevertheless, the two shots that United had on target were from the youngster, and he converted both of them without any hesitation. The 20-year-old is now on six goals and five assists in 27 league appearances, with 14 starts.
Despite the fact that Rashford did not do much besides the two goals, he has evidently shown to Mourinho that he is more than ready to feature more in the coming weeks and can potentially prove to be an individual that can help the side to kill off games. He may not receive enough game-time opportunities as he would wish since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, but the England international has to show he has massively improved if he wants to go to the World Cup.
No Anthony Martial and no Paul Pogba, no problem for the Red Devils
Due to the injury issues that United have been experiencing, especially the recent ones in Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba, Liverpool were seen as the sligh favourites going into the fixture. On the other hand, some would say that the duo being unavailable was a blessing in disguise for the side, as it allowed the team to be effective on and off the ball ,as well as limiting Liverpool space. This allowed United to prevent giving any cheap balls away, especially in the danger areas.
Overall, Pogba hasn’t really been himself in the last couple of weeks, where he has failed to control and dominate the game like he used to do on many occasions since he returned to Old Trafford two years ago. Also, Martial has without a doubt been one of United’s most important players so far this season, but he has tended to struggle against the big teams, where the opposition would defend very aggressively and closely. Mourinho’s side simply get into their stride once the likes of Martial and Pogba are on top of their game as well as their opponent, which is something that the fans and the manager will quickly be hoping for.