Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United took on Mauricio Pochatinho’s Tottenham Hotspur at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday in a bid to go level on points with 5th placed Arsenal.
Arsenal’s unexpected loss to West Ham meant that United had the opportunity to catch up to the Gunners if they won against Spurs.
The 1-0 scoreline does not do justice to the number of chances both teams created. The first half was open for both the teams. Both the sides had chances to score goals, while the second half was mostly dominated by Tottenham Hotspur.
— adidas Football (@adidasfootball) January 13, 2019
Here are three things United must learn from the game.
Ashley Young is NOT a Full-back
Ashley Young has been lauded in recent times for how he has adapted himself to the full-back position in the latter part of his career.
His impeccable work rate and ability to play as both left and right full-back have made him a mainstay in the Manchester United squad under Ole.
However, the fact that he is not a full-back is often exploited by quality opposition. Despite his work rate, experience and determination, he lacks the defensive quality that is a must-have for a full-back.
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Tottenham’s Son Heung-min had a lot of joy against Ashley Young almost every time the duo faced off.
United must acknowledge the fact that the club needs a new World-class full-back to play on the right flank. With the January transfer window open, the management must work to bring in a player who can become United’s first choice right full-back and perform week in week out.
David de Gea – United’s Guardian Angel Against Tottenham Hotspur
De Gea’s performance in the second half was what got the 3 points for the men in Red. The Spaniard, who had a disappointing World Cup and saw a bit of a dip in form, once again looks to be at his best.
United’s number one made 11 saves against Tottenham Hotspur which is the most number of saves in the EPL for any goalkeeper in a match since his own tally of 14 saves against Arsenal.
— David de Gea (@D_DeGea) January 13, 2019
A Fluid Front Three
The rigidity of Mourinho has been replaced by the fluidity of Solskjaer, and it is most evident from the interchanging positioning of the front three.
In the initial line up, Martial started in the left flank and Marcus Rashford was in the right flank. Jesse Lingard, who has been deployed in several different roles found himself in a completely new position, something similar to a ‘False number nine’.
Throughout the course of the game against Tottenham Hotspur though, the forwards kept interchanging positions. This gives the defenders a lot to think about and allows the players to take up positions from where they think they can be effective.
One for our fans. Travel home safe 🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/9eekT9sZUV
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) January 13, 2019
The Midfield Balance
Herrera and Matic were also in top shape like they have been since the Christmas period. They broke down Tottenham’s attack, covered a lot of ground and were available while going forward.
Matic’s discipline and ability to read the game, along with Herrera’s energy, positioning, and mobility has allowed Pogba to roam freely and play higher up the pitch to join the attack.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 13, 2019
The midfield seems to be in perfect harmony. Everybody knows his job and each player’s style seems to complement the other two.
There is still a lot left to be done. Transfers need to be made, and contract negotiations need to be sorted out. However, United look a better side than they did a few months ago and are arguably on the right track to return to the glory days.