Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Bruno Fernandes celebrates with Fred after scoring the penalty
Manchester United was back to Old Trafford on the back of an impressive display at Goodison Park. The Red Devils were favorites against the Baggies even if we consider the tiresome International break. The only thing that would’ve concerned Solskjaer would be the Red Devil's abysmal home form so far. Thankfully, the team was able to get the first win of the season at home. Although, the performance wasn’t convincing at all.
I’d rather say United were lucky to get three points from this game. Imagine having to be lucky to get all the points available against a winless team, in the bottom three. It was a below-par performance from United, the team seemed to be still struggling for consistency. Bruno Fernandes acknowledged the fact that it wasn’t the performance that was required. Although in the end, it’s the points that matter, and getting points and climbing the table would be the higher priority. We move on now from this game.
First Half Analysis
Martial missed a golden opportunity
Manchester United started brightly and had a wonderful opportunity in the 17’. Captain Maguire intercepted a loose ball, driving forward and playing it out wide to Rashford. The Englishman’s cross reached Bruno, who teed up Martial. The Frenchman was unable to find the corner of the net as Johnstone got down to make an excellent save. That was the cue for the ex-Man Utd keeper to have the game of his life. Fortunately, we’ve got one of the best GK between our sticks as well. De Gea made a brilliant fingertip stop from Karlan Grant’s shot.
The Baggies kept on frustrating Man Utd and we needed a moment of brilliance to find the pockets between the defense. As always, it was the man from Sporting Lisbon who pulled off a sublime pass to Mata. But the Spaniard couldn’t make much of the opportunity. He tried to square the ball to Martial but the Frenchman was beaten to a 50/50 by Johnstone. Maguire then came close with a thunderous volley from a corner that was blocked by the face of Bartley - the West Brom captain.
Second Half Analysis
Hop, Skip, Score - Bruno retakes his penalty after seeing his initial effort saved illegally
[Image Courtesy: The Strait Times]
The second half was blighted with penalty drama. In fact, David Coote pointed to the spot just a minute after the start of the second half. Bruno Fernandes seemed to have stepped across Gallagher inside the box as the West Brom player went down. Bruno had got the slightest of the touches on the ball and we should be considered lucky to have the decision overturned by VAR.
De Gea pulled out another save from the bag of his glorious former self as he stuck out his foot to deny Townsend. Manchester United was awarded a penalty just 6 minutes after VAR overturned West Brom’s. Conceding the penalty must’ve been hard for the Baggies, but according to the new rules, the decision was handball. With more drama to come, Johnstone saved Bruno’s initial attempt but was deemed to be off his line. The Portuguese made no mistakes with his second chance and United finally got their goal.
Callum Robinson almost made an instant impact on the game from the bench as he saw his shot bounce off the crossbar. On the other end, Rashford’s curler seemed to be heading inside the net, only for Johnstone to tip it over the crossbar. Maguire’s half-volley forces another good save from Johnstone in the 71’. That was the last significant bit of action in a match that was supposed to be a cakewalk on paper but turned out to be a nervy affair.
David de Gea: 8.5
Solid performance from the Spaniard. Pulled off a few great saves and kept Manchester United in the game. De Gea seems to be getting back to his best since the arrival of Dean Henderson, although that won’t be the best news for the Englishman.
Alex Telles: 6.5
The Brazilian couldn’t affect the game as much on his PL debut as he did in his UCL debut for Manchester United. Telles didn’t have as much opportunity to move forward as he expected. Although, he didn’t make any mistakes and had a pretty solid game.
Harry Maguire: 8.0
Maguire came on the back of a positive international break and he carried his form into this game as well. The English CB made interceptions in good areas and drove forward immediately. He looked confident on the ball and had a positive impact on the game. He even forced a block and a good save from the Baggies.
Victor Lindelof: 7.5
The Iceman was a doubt for this game due to a bad back. But the Swede was considered fit enough to start at Old Trafford after being rested during the international break. Another solid performance from Lindelof as Manchester United seem to be getting better as a defensive unit.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 6.5
Wan-Bissaka had a decent game defensively, but as a modern fullback, we always expect him to contribute offensively as well. A decent performance from him.
Nemanja Matic: 5.5
Matic was one of the two changes from the Everton game as he replaced McTominay in the midfield pivot. The Serbian looked off the pace and seemed to struggle to impact the game. For some reason, his first touch seemed a bit off as well. Would’ve preferred McTominay or Van de Beek in the midfield as playing Matic and Fred together seems to defensive.
Fred: 7.5 (83’ 🏳️)
Another solid performance from the Brazilian. Fred has become an increasingly important figure at Manchester United as he looks to cement his spot in the starting XI. The midfielder’s tenacity is his biggest trait and his ball-winning capability has become really important for us. Although, his first touch and ball-holding ability need to be worked upon as he lost the ball a few times when pressured.
Bruno Fernandes: 8.0 (⚽️)
Even though it was not the best performance from Bruno, he was still one of the best players on the pitch. The Portuguese playmaker created 6 big chances in the match, the most by a player in a single match this season. He played a wonderful ball to Mata who couldn’t really latch on to it. His smart free-kick lacked the power to catch out Johnstone. Although Bruno’s penalty was initially saved illegally, he made no mistake when given a second opportunity. It seems GKs are getting an idea of how Bruno takes penalties.
Marcus Rashford: 7.5 (79' 🏳️)
I’d say Rashford had a good game and could’ve possibly grabbed a goal and an assist. But Johnstone seemed to be having the game of his life and wasn’t ready to allow anything past him. Rashford’s beautiful shot almost curled into the top-left corner, if not for Johnstone’s brilliance. The Englishman had a golden opportunity to kill the match and possibly grab a goal of the season contender. But somehow, his dink from 2 yds was pushed away by Johnstone. Boy was he having a game.
Anthony Martial: 4.5
It was a disappointing performance from the Frenchman who still has to open his PL account. For someone who scored over 20 goals last term, he seems to be lethargic and lacking any energy or motivation. Martial squandered a couple of golden opportunities to score. I expect a lot better from the Frenchman, from someone who seemed to have solved Manchester United’s #9 issue.
Juan Mata: 6.0 (62’🏳️)
West Brom seemed to be the game where Mata could really work his magic. Although, West Brom pushed higher than expected. Consequently, Mata didn’t have as much room as he would’ve liked. The absence of Greenwood has given an opportunity to the Spaniard to get some games. He has failed to bring his League Cup form to PL. Mata looked off the pace and struggled to get on to the balls released by Rashford and Bruno. Yet, even being 32, he pressured more aggressively than the 24-year-old Martial. Moreover, I feel like at least he showed an intent to get on balls.
Edinson Cavani: 6.5 ( 🔛 62’)
Even the 33 yr old Uruguayan striker covered more grass than his 24-yr old French compatriot. Although, Martial improved after Cavani’s inclusion shifted him to the flanks. Cavani seems to lack sharpness but he’s getting better with every game. The #7 got into good positions and held on to the ball well to bring his teammates into the game. Although, the Uruguayan striker was booked for a late challenge. If he continues to improve his game, he can certainly be our starting #9, if considering Martial doesn’t improve his form.
Donny van de Beek: 7.0 ( 🔛 79’)
Van de Beek’s intelligence was evident from the moment he stepped in. He’s really smart in possession, can easily avoid tackles and yet keep a hold of the ball. The Dutchman put in a few good tackles to win possession for us as well. I don’t question the manager’s decision to play the team he plays.
Scott McTominay: 6.0 ( 🔛 83’)
The Scotsman came back to Old Trafford after securing a berth in the Euro 2020 for his country. He was expected to start against West Brom but Matic was preferred ahead of him. Although this could be due to the busy schedule we have as Solskjaer must be trying to rest a few players. Didn’t do much, played his role well for whatever time he played.
Hitanshu (@TheDevilsDen_92) is a writer at large, and one of the global contributors to the Daily Manc team. He is also the creator and chief editor of The Devil's Den. All opinions and materials of contributor writers are solely their own and do not necessarily represent positions held by The Daily Manc.