Another box ticked. Another opposition decimated. The Caretaker Manager of United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is having a time of his life with the club. Touted to be his “Biggest test so far”, the game certainly lived up to the hype as United extended their victorious run with a 1-0 win over the Spurs at the Wembley Arena.
After coming out on top in the last 5 league games including the game against Spurs, Manchester United sit at 6th position tied with Arsenal with 41 points against their name.
⚽️ Rashford's goal
🧤 De Gea's heroics
— Goal Malaysia (@Goal_MY) January 13, 2019
Although the scoreline 0-1 suggests a seemingly lifeless game, but gee, it wasn’t. It was a game for a typical football enthusiast. If it wasn’t for the two men guarding the goal for either side, Spurs’ Lloris and United’s David De Gea, the scoreline would have faced a bit more trouble.
The Spurs Vs United game started on a usual note with Solskjaer employing his usual battalion at work. The only notable player missing out was Alexis Sanchez who seems to have got a bit of time to complete rehabilitation of his hamstring injury.
As the game got along in the initial 15 minutes, it was clear that United were waiting for the Spurs to commit mistakes and they were ready to pounce on every opportunity presented to them.
They had employed an unusual counter-attacking strategy where they almost waited for Spurs to make some errors in the attacking third and they were willing to put their defense under pressure.
This strategy sounds a bit iffy on paper but for Solskjaer, it paid off. United reaped rewards in the 44th minute as Marcus Rashford didn’t take much effort finishing a goal down the inside-right channel courtesy a mind-boggling 40-45 yard ball by Paul Pogba.
A bit of a rewind to a moment before this goal shows Lingard showcasing his brilliant presence of mind and making an excellent interception, almost cutting off the Spurs’ way to earn those 3 points.
Make that 6 wins in a row for Manchester United 🔥
De Gea puts on a show and Rashford's goal gives Man U the win on the road against Tottenham. pic.twitter.com/DWlunwmr15
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) January 13, 2019
United went into the second half as the happier of the lot but they seemed to have lost the momentum as they came out, except for one guy. David De Gea at Wembley yesterday was playing like a Marvel superhero. Saving his team against all odds by himself.
No matter what came his way, nothing could go past him. The guy who was upset of not keeping a clean sheet in the league over the last month, played 45 minutes constituting sheer determination, making 11 saves – the most he has made in a top-flight league game.
There was Kane, Alli, Alderweireld, everyone trying to take a sniff at the United’s post. But it was De Gea who managed to keep everything limited to a sniff for the Spurs.
David de Gea showed every one of the young prodigies who aspire to be a goalkeeper, what it takes to win matches for your team at this level.
Talking to the press after his jaw-dropping performance, De Gea was all pumped up and was quoted as saying,
“The manager brought some happiness, the players are playing well and the team is very strong now. This is the real Manchester United.”
“We won the game against a top team, we controlled the first half but in the second half, they had chances. I don’t even remember some of the saves so I can’t pick a best.”
Interestingly, Pogba, who had a bit of a rough patch under Jose Mourinho, has undergone a massive revamp under Solskjær, being directly involved in 8 goals in the last 6 games.
When he was asked about his role under Solskjaer, He said:
“I am enjoying my football now,”
“I like to be more attacking. I had to defend too much before and that is not my best attribute. This is my position. The manager tells me to get into the box and score goals. The best example is Frank Lampard.”
Solskjær has been pretty vocal about what De Gea brings to the side. He went a step ahead after the game against Spurs yesterday when Solskjaer was quoted as saying:
“There have been some great keepers at this club and he is challenging Edwin [van der Sar] and Peter [Schmeichel] for the No 1 spot historically. There were one or two fantastic ones and the rest were just about concentration. The team spirit is fantastic and, secondly, we’ve shown we can defend today.”
Solskjaer was astute while mentioning that the team spirit is high and indeed it is. If two of the mainstays of the club are being vocal about how they are loving their game, then it speaks volumes of the positive atmosphere within that change room.
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This wasn’t a game of miles but of inches. Manchester United were successful in not giving away an inch and making sure they capitalized when the sun shined bright on them. This was a sun of glory. This was the statement that the demons of the United of the past have been buried long back.
The fans sensed a revamp and it has been of sorts lately as the tougher tests await.