Ashley Young stars again as United edge past tenacious Watford

There were numerous headlines you could take from Manchester United’s 4-2 triumph at Watford last night but the most obvious was that Ashley Young has discovered his richest vein of form since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

When looking at his best performance in a Red Devils shirt the majority of fans will point to Young’s two spectacular curling efforts in the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal at the beginning of the 2011/12 season.

Never a standout defender in the side, Young had seen Daley Blind take ownership of the left-back position under Louis Van Gaal, while before that David Moyes’ management created an alienation within the squad amongst senior players.

Since starting on the left wing under Ferguson, the England international has been forced to right-back, right midfield and even had a cameo spell as a striker at White Hart Lane two years ago.

Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, has given Young the time and space to use his wealth of experience at left-back or left-wing back in a 3-5-2 formation. It’s worked a treat recently.

In a testing tussle against a tenacious Brighton and Hove Albion what separated the two sides was a deflected Young effort, ricocheting off Lewis Dunk into the net, with a delirious Stretford End relieved.

The tie against Watford created a new test. Mourinho knew that at Vicarage Road the home side would press United in the final third of the pitch, so the use of wing-backs to drive the ball forward and open the space behind the yellow midfield would be vital in securing the three points.

And that’s exactly what happened in United’s opener, with Jesse Lingard racing forward to find Young on the left, who’s rifled effort beat Heurelho Gomes for pace at his near post.

Going into the match Watford had scored more goals than Tottenham Hotspur, so a 1-0 lead was never likely to be a score which would win United the match. Young knew it.

Six minutes later the former Aston Villa winger channelled his inner David Beckham, whipping the ball past a hapless Gomes from a 30-yard free-kick, doubling United’s lead.

Young, believe it or not, has now scored as many goals as Kevin De Bruyne in the Premier League this season. Before last night he had netted once in his previous 60 away games, with his first brace in 114 appearances.

If he continues this purple patch those stats will no doubt improve.