United finally ended their run of consecutive draws with a win away at Everton. The Reds laboured through the first half, but goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard secured a vital three points. In the second half, United played some very attractive football, with Paul Pogba the most impressive player on the field. They even rode out a tricky period in the second half when it looked like Everton may equalise, but in truth, the Reds always looked like they would win the game.
The following are the major talking points from the game:
The fluid 4-3-3 could be the future
In this very column after the Southampton game, we asked for a tactical switch that would add another central midfielder to allow Pogba to go further forward. We always suspected that Jose was a reader of this website, but I think this latest change might prove it. Herrera was added to the centre of the pitch and Matic dropped back in front of the defence.
The result was a much-improved performance. Unlike United’s previous opponents, Everton were unable to rampage through the centre of the field. Herrera, Matic and Pogba were a strong enough shield to push the Blues’ attacks out wide and the United defence were able to nullify balls into the box with relative ease.
Going forward, United were much more fluid than they’ve been for a while. Martial, Lingard and Mata were able to swap positions at will, dropping deep or pulling wide, which really unnerved the Everton defence. Both the goals came from Martial and Lingard being in unpredictable positions, pulling or running away from their markers before shooting at goal. It would be interesting to see what this way of playing would look like with Lukaku spearheading it, but in his absence, this looks the best way to go.
Paul Pogba was back at his best
The formation change brought the best out of Pogba. No longer required to sit deep and hold position, he was now free to roam and cause havoc. The midfielder pushed wide and forward to combine with the other attackers, linking midfield and attack and creating several chances. The Frenchman even managed a few dribbles into the box and pulled off some delightful flicks and tricks. This version of Pogba has been missing from recent fixtures and it was great to see him back. United were in desperate need of a performance like this from the Frenchman, let’s hope he can keep it up.
Jesse Lingard is having his best ever season
Lingard scored yet again, taking his tally of goals this season up to 10. He also has 4 assists, which means he has more goals and assists than Eden Hazard and Mesut Ozil this season. Lingard has also scored the winner in an FA Cup final and of course graduated from the United academy. He should be adored by United fans, but there seems to be an opinion that he’s not quite up to being a first-team player. However, recent performances have made him undroppable and he is already having his best ever season in a red shirt. Maybe he’s a young player steadily improving? Maybe by the end of the season, he will be good enough to be a United first team player? Whether or not that comes to pass, we should enjoy watching him play. Especially if he continues maintaining this level of performance.