United scraped to a 1-0 home win over Brighton at the weekend, with a deflected Ashley Young effort (later credited as a Lewis Dunk own goal) ensuring that the Red Devils kept up the heat on Manchester City at the top.
Here are the major talking points from that game:
United lacking fluidity
Jose Mourinho went with the same lineup that beat Newcastle 4-1 the previous weekend. This meant that Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku all started, in addition to Paul Pogba in midfield. However, such attacking riches did not translate to much on the field. United lacked fluidity, failing to create any clear-cut chances till the last minute of the first half, and while Brighton’s superb defensive effort takes much of the credit for that, United were also culpable. Mourinho lined the team up in a 4-4-2, with Mata on the right and Rashford playing alongside Lukaku, which meant that there was a lack of guile and invention in central areas; as much as Pogba tried to get thing going. Mourinho alluded to this after the game, saying that “sometimes you play with too many attacking players and you lose control of the game”, in what looks to be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
Brighton could have got a result
Chris Hughton’s side put in a superb defensive effort at Old Trafford, limiting United to just four shots on target. They were desperately unlucky to concede the way they did, Lewis Dunk deflecting Ashley Young’s effort beyond Mat Ryan, and Mourinho conceded as much at fulltime, stating that “probably they deserve more than the result they got. They played really well, they had a good defensive organisation and then, when they had the ball, they were dangerous.” While Brighton did not seriously trouble David de Gea, they were threatening enough to have hoped to take at least a point from the game. They counter-attacked well on a number of occasions, lacking just that bit of quality on the final ball. Anthony Knockaert, Pascal Gross and Bruno all sent threatening crosses through the United area, which on a different day, or with a more nimble striker than Glenn Murray, could have cost United dearly
This might be the turning point for Lindelof
Victor Lindelof started his second consecutive league game, after sitting out of the Champions League match in midweek. This was probably his most assured performance yet for United, and fans of the Red Devils can hope that this marks a turning point in what has been a shaky start to the Swede’s United career. He read the play well, intercepting passes to Glenn Murray all night and playing a few accurate passes out to the flanks, or to Lukaku. Indeed, his ability on the ball has shone through even during this rough patch, with Mourinho going as far to say that he is an option in defensive midfield, a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, this display should have raised his own spirits considerably, with one crunching tackle on Knockaert in the second half raising the loudest cheers of the night from the Stretford End.