United had not scored from open play in their last two fixtures, but yesterday they equaled a Premier League record for a winning margin as they ruthlessly battered nine-man Southampton 9-0 to go level with leaders Manchester City. A major tactical weakness of United in previous games had been of overcoming the intense high pressing of teams like Southampton. Southampton had however started the match with a weakened side, Theo Walcott, Ibrahima Diallo and Oriol Romeu had all suffered knocks in the defeat to Aston Villa, while the Saints had already been missing Kyle Walker-Peters, Jannik Vestergaard, Mohammed Salisu and Nathan Tella. The contest was nonetheless essentially decided after just 79 seconds as 18-year-old Alex Jankewitz, on his full Premier League debut, saw red for a high, horror tackle on Scott McTominay. This promoted the Saints to cede the match.
United’s past poor performances have made it difficult to select the Man of the Match. In this match it is also not a simple decision but for the opposite reason. Cavani showed he is one of the best headers in the game. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sharp from the kick off, and was a big presence in the attacking third, including providing the opening goal. United had seven different players on the score sheet, which, according to Opta, was only the second time in the PL era. Luke Shaw however gets my vote as he continued to show his resurgence in form, giving United a new attacking dimension down the left. Since December 19, no defender has created more chances for a team-mate than Shaw (24) – more than Joao Cancelo, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.
The January window has effectively left United with a first-team group of around 23 players, still more than enough for them to cope with whatever this unique season can throw at them. United have now scored more goals than any other team in the Premier League – 46 – and with a goal difference of 19 they are at par with Liverpool. Everton up next this weekend.
Article contributed by Contributor Kenneth. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.