Following a disappointing defeat to North London rivals Arsenal. Let’s have a look at what we can learn from it.
United went into this match with a depleted squad. Then, following Martinez’s knock and Lindelof reportedly feeling unwell, that only further exposed our lack of depth. Having to end the match with Maguire and Evans as the central defensive partnership. We are also very light in midfield at this point, resorting back to the midfield 3 of last season, with Mount being injured. When you look at the bench, it worries you. Our 2 midfield options were Dan Gore, who’s never played a senior minute, or Hannibal Mejbri. Who has just 3 senior appearances to his name. United are desperate for these injury worries to end and for Amrabat to hit the ground running.
With Martial back in the side, we were able to Marcus Rashford back on his natural left-hand side. This meant that we got to see more of the Rashford we were hoping for this season. He was far more direct, he was more of a threat and took his goal brilliantly. But, we also saw what we feared we would. He is an output winger, not a creative one at this time. He used to be far more creative, however, he’s become a talisman. We’ve relied so heavily on him for goals that it has become his first thought. With Hojlund now in the side, he needs to pick his head up. He has a player that will be making those runs for him and he needs to learn to find him.
Hojlund will be a threat
In Hojlund’s cameo, we saw exactly what we hoped we would. He looks like he’s going to be key to us this season. He’s energetic, fast, physical and intelligent. He looks to be a proper bully and will be a proper hand full for defenders. He could have arguably won a penalty after Gabriel pulled him to the ground and was involved in the move that lead to Garnacho’s disallowed goal. Overall a very positive debut.
Dalot at LB
After the signing of Sergio Reguilon on loan, there were questions whether he’d come straight into the team, with Shaw and Malacia still absent. Or, if Dalot was going to persist at left back. It was a big call as Arsenal’s biggest threat is down that side in Bukayo Saka, but Dalot dealt with him brilliantly. He certainly justified the manager’s choice to include him and will cause a headache for him in the future when choosing between him and Reguilon. Whilst we wait for Shaw to regain fitness.
Away form still worrying
A stat that is brandished around often is Man United’s poor form away from home against the top 6 or “top 9” sides. We are yet to beat a top 6 side under ten Hag away from home. Which is a massive contrast to our near perfect home form. Last season, we were guilty of perhaps being too gung ho, and wanting to match teams blow for blow. This match wasn’t like that, it was more of a “chess match”. However, it was one where we made the final mistake. If Garnacho’s goal had counted, then we’d be having a different discussion right now. There are positives to take from this game in isolation, however, the away record remains an issue.