Two weeks ago, if you asked a United fan whether United would make the top four, you’d have seen some doubts. After yesterday’s performance, you’d see more positivity as they extend their unbeaten run and pile pressure on the top 5 to not slip up. Manchester United tore apart Watford in what initially looked liked a repeat of a Gomes shutdown.
Manchester United lined up with the main difference being Martial over Rashford with the fullback pairing balancing out with a defensive Blind and an attacking Valencia. Watford’s new star Niang had a more central role with Deeney spearheading the attack as usual.
The Special ‘Juan’:
While Juan Mata may not be a fast winger, he certainly is one of the most creative. Mata combined brilliantly with Mkhitaryan the whole game, interchanging positions based on the situation and moving into channels. The duo managed to cover all the three areas of the pitch, not just their positions. The touches are a justification of this. The Spaniard was also the architect of his own goal which was flawless; Gomes could only do so much to prevent it.
Anthony Martial started over Rashford on the left to provide a series of migraine attacks to the Watford defense; especially to Cathcart. United’s attacks were balanced on both sides but Martial played the role of an Inside Forward to perfection. His take ons proved to be a disturbance to a usually arrogant Watford defense who looked lost today. Martial has been showing his ability to cut in and out on a consistent basis and his pace in complementing and completing counter attacks has been a boost to United.
The balance of Wingplay:
Mourinho’s choice for Blind and Valencia go hand in hand with Martial and Mata. The pairing of a fullback with an inside forward (Blind and Martial) balance out the other flank with a Wingback and Winger (Valencia and Mata). While Blind doesn’t go forward as much, he makes smart passes and ensures to not get caught on counters. Mata running in circles with some overlaps from Valencia providing crosses leaves opposition defenders confused on who to mark. The combination, in my opinion, is simple and effective.
Gomes saving the blushes:-
While United may have won 2-0, the scoreline is an understatement of a possible rout. United created a whopping 21 chances with 31 take on. Gomes made some incredible saves to deny Ibrahimovic and Pogba goals. The first 30 minutes looked like it would be another goalkeeper display at Old Trafford but Mata had other plans. Not taking any credit away, the goalkeeper has saved Watford from a score that could’ve easily been 5-0.
While jokes are running around about ‘still being sixth’, the top 4 can have a new look at the end of the season. United continue their brilliant unbeaten run in the league. However, some of the games might take a hit with an intense set of fixtures coming up. A mixture of congestion and traveling might take a toll on the players, taking the test of depth to the maximum.