Coming off midweek European competitions with different results, Manchester United travelled to the London Stadium to take on Moyes’ West Ham United. The Red Devils arrived with a disappointing 2-1 loss to Young Boys, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer again the target in the media. West Ham United missed their frontman, Antonio, due to a suspension. Still, it was flying high after a convincing 2-0 win against Dinamo Zagreb. If there was ever a time to pile on more misery on MUFC, it was now.
Let’s take a look at the performance both holistically as well as granularly.
Lineups & details:
United set up in their traditional 4231 with McFred pivot highlighting just how vital the duo is for big matches. Mctominay had to be rushed straight into the team coming off of an operation. This naturally meant Pogba pushed wide left & Sancho on the bench.
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire ©, Shaw; McTominay, Fred (Matic 88); Greenwood (Lingard 72), Fernandes, Pogba (Sancho 72); Ronaldo.
Unused substitutes: Heaton, Bailly, Dalot, Mata, van de Beek, Martial.
Goal: Ronaldo 35, Lingard 89.
Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen (Noble 90), Fornals, Benrahma (Lanzini 88); Vlasic (Yarmolenko 68).
Unused substitutes: Areola, Dawson, Noble, Diop, Fredericks, Masuaku, Kral.
Goal: Benrahma 30.
Shaky Defense And Inevitable Portuguese Duo
Match started with a period of possession & dominance for Manchester United with moments of individual errors in midfield & defence with players giving the ball away cheaply. One such careless attempt by Maguire back in our defensive third triggered a 10-minute interval of West Ham’s relentless attack.
Jarrod Bowen was the pick from the West Ham team who was finding all sorts of spaces drifting into the penalty area, which caused the United defence many problems. This was crucial to the first goal as the West Ham man turned brilliantly on the edge of the box & found Benrahma. The midfielder was afforded space and time as he took a touch and curled his effort, which took a wicked deflection off Varane, leaving David wrong-footed for West Ham’s goal.
As so often, conceding a goal spurred United to create quick few chances. It only took them 5 minutes for Bruno to bend a dangerous cross for Ronaldo to steer towards the goal. Fabianski initially did well to keep it out. Still, it fell perfectly for Cristiano Ronaldo to tap in from six yards away, taking his tally to 4 goals in 3 games.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 20, 2021
Ole’s super subs – Matic & Lingard – do the trick yet again
Despite statistically boasting the best performance record from his subs in terms of impact (goals & assists), there has been an ill-informed view on social media that “Ole doesn’t know when to sub”. Well, even to that specific section, the intentions should have been apparent when Matic was replaced.
Fred & Matic are contrasting archetypes, & offer something completely different in their play style. What Matic offers, is an ability to play forward, line-breaking passes. This assist to Lingard effectively eliminated 5 players while breaking 2 lines. Important vs a low-block. pic.twitter.com/c87XQgrjby
— Eric Laurie (@EricLaurie) September 19, 2021
Within a minute from coming on, Matic found Lingard in space on the left inside channel with a brilliant line-breaking pass & the former West Ham loanee took a touch and curled his effort away from Fabianski into the back of the net.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 19, 2021
Redemption for Jesse Lingard after being the one to cheaply give the ball away for Young Boys’ winner in the last match, but the second half of the arc was yet to come.
Ole’s post-match reaction to being denied two clear penalties, which might be a case of referees too afraid of giving Cristiano Ronaldo penalties and being labelled as biased.
Solskjaer: “Two penalties were stonewall. Hopefully it won’t be ‘Cristiano’s never going to get a penalty’.” [@footballdaily]
— United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) September 19, 2021
Justice is finally done
Having been denied another stonewall penalty in the dying minutes of the game(90+1’) when Zouma brought down Ronaldo in the box, VAR suggested to Mr Atkinson that he had made a clear & obvious error at the other end of the pitch when the ball hit Luke Shaw’s hand in an unnatural position from a Yarmalenko cross. The referee went over to the monitor & overturned his initial call.
What could have been a stroke of genius from Moyes, Mark Noble came off the bench to take the penalty kick off Declan Rice’s hand. Odds were highly against David owing to his & Noble’s penalty record.
David De Gea’s penalty record club and country:
Whereas Mark Noble before today was only bested by Robert Lewandowski in the top 5 leagues regarding penalty success rate. With his first touch, he hammered it towards the bottom right corner, albeit at a comfortable height, and De Gea came across to make the save.
Noble’s penalty miss
Incredible last minute scenes at the London Stadium! ? pic.twitter.com/G4P1jv9F7e
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 19, 2021
David de Gea saved a Premier League penalty for the first time since October 2014.
David de Gea saves a penalty for the first time since April 23, 2016 (vs Romelu Lukaku).
That save ends a run of 40 successive penalties faced for club & country without a save (including shootouts).
— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) September 19, 2021
Manchester United’s unbeaten away run(29 games) that stretches back to January 2020 continues. Next on the road will be Leicester on October 16, 2021.
35 – Manchester United have recovered 35 points from losing positions in Premier League matches since the start of last season, almost twice as many as any other side. Attitude. pic.twitter.com/0XlwB05rGX
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 19, 2021
In a repeat of the fixture between the two sides in the Carabao Cup midweek, that should present an opportunity for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rest his key players like Ronaldo, Maguire & Bruno Fernandes while offering Donny Van de Beek, Lingard, Alex Telles & Martial some critical game time. Till then, it’s goodbye from us and takes care.