- Manchester United have broken the record for unbeaten matches away from home previously held by Arsenal, with a hard-fought win against a sprightly Wolves side who outplayed United at times during periods of the match. United have now gone 28 games unbeaten away from Old Trafford in the Premier League, a run spanning over three seasons, an incredible feat in such a competitive competition. Indeed, the match against Wolves provided ample evidence how United became a very hard team to beat. Even though we were second best in certain periods of the match, the team held on and continued to fight for every ball. In the last quarter of the match then, United started putting their noses in front in terms of play in the third half and looked the more likely to score. The episode of the goal started from a loose ball in midfield which Pogba went for along with Neves. The latter was first to the ball and Pogba seemed to have fouled the Wolves player. The ref was five yards away and waved play on and from the ensuing play, Mason beat his player on the right wing and fired a bolter across the goal to put United upfront, an advantage which we kept till the end with some ease to take the three points and the record home. And remember, these are the wins that count more at the end of the season. They are still three points but a draw would have been more fitting, on the balance of play.
- The game against Wolves was an opportunity for Ole to give full debuts to Sancho and Varane. The former played for 70 minutes and while he showed some nice touches, I believe that the match proved to be an awakening for him, maybe part of the learning process. Sancho will do great things with United in the years to come but today he seemed to be shocked by the intensity which the Wolves players put into the match. This is what makes the Premiership so special, the intensity of play displayed predominantly by the ‘lesser’ teams. Sancho couldn’t cope with it and he was largely insignificant for most of his time on the pitch. He will learn from it and be better next time. On the other hand, Varane showed the United fans and all what a player he is. He did not put a foot wrong during the whole match. Quick, defends well the one on one, clearing headers, calm on the ball and can play forward, he has it all. There was one episode in the first 15 minutes where United lost the ball in the Wolves half. The ball went to Traore who dribbled past two players and had a clear run at Varane. If Lindelof was there and considering Traore’s pace, I think I would have died. Varane showed Traore the flank while retreating and slowed down the attack, which was then controlled by United. It is these situations – the comfort that the central defensive partnership is strong enough to deal with most defensive situations – which should give Ole the opportunity to play a more adventurous formation with Pogba used like a quarter back and one defensive midfielder with him. Today, there were times where we looked light in central midfield but this mostly because Fred had to shift from his usual position in the centre and move to the flank where Traore was to double mark him with Shaw. No other team has such a potent force like Traore however, so this will be a one-off. I think Ole should go again with Pogba in the quarterback position in the next match. United will be a much dangerous team with that structure.
- My special mention today goes for De Gea. Mason was excellent and so was the whole of the defence. Indeed, I cannot not mention a goal-line clearance by Wan Bissaka in the first half, when Trincao beat De Gea from inside the box but with the ball goal-bound, a trademark sliding tackle by Wan Bissaka took it off the line to safety. However, I will give it to De Gea today, particularly after all the stick he got during the last year from critics and even United fans, maybe including myself. He was strong whole match and that double save he made on Saiss five minutes before our goal, proved to be a game-changer and probably won us the match. If De Gea continues in this vein, which is synonymous with his form of three years ago, it might be difficult to dislodge him from the starting goalkeeper position.
Looking forward to receiving your thoughts on the Facebook page. GGMU
Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.