A smash and grab victory sees Manchester United set a new Premier League record with 28 games unbeaten on the road.
How Did Manchester United Set Up?Embed from Getty Images
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided this was the game to start 2 of his new summer additions, with full debuts for Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.
A midfield 3 with Pogba floating around the middle, Fred anchoring and Bruno given licence to thrill was the plan, was there a potential lesson learnt at the Southampton fixture, that the double pivot without last season stalwarts “McFred” doesn’t work. I’m sure the fanbase will agree with a more adventurous formation for many more games to come.
3 words to describe the game = SCRAPPY, CHALLENGING, UNCONVINCING.
David De Gea (GK), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB), Raphael Varane (CB), Harry Maguire (CB), Luke Shaw (LB), Fred (CM), Paul Pogba (CM), Bruno Fernandes (AM), Daniel James (RW), Jadon Sancho (LW), Mason Greenwood (ST)
Southampton vs Manchester United: How It Went Down
Wolves undoubtedly started the match better, a few early opportunities, within the opening 5 minutes, went missing for Wolves after a good bit of assured defending, though it was evident Wolves looked good.
An early break for Adama Traore, with Good jockeying from Varane, maintaining the distance and checking the play onto the weaker foot. Varane was calm, composed and assured in what he needed to do, a worthy addition to a team hopeful of a title challenge.Embed from Getty Images
Two mistakes from Fred with a poor clearance led to another shot on target, with De Gea beaten it fell for our own Spiderman, Aaron Wan-Bissaka to make a sliding goal-line clearance, great positioning for the overlooked England international.
an additional two more chances around the 25-minute mark for Wolves with a hopeful bicycle kick, attempted by the CB Roman Saiss this led from a 2nd attempted cross after a corner. Then a powerful run inside from the wing saw Adama Traore bouncing United players off him, reminiscent of the 90s classic TV show Gladiators.
At 38 minutes United had their first real chance, a carbon copy of last weeks lofted assist, Pogba to Bruno saw a great low driven finish into the bottom right corner, however the goal was disallowed after a rightful Off-side ruling.
The 1st half ends with the game in the balance 0-0.
United started the second half well for the 2nd game in a row – does Ole have a hairdryer? An open game in the first 10minutes of the 2nd half with some crisp passing from United midfielders. At 57 minutes United were presented with their first major opportunity to score, again a link-up from Pogba to Bruno led to a chance, a poor touch from Bruno this time round saw the ball fall behind his path and eventually the ball petered out – these 2 magnificent midfielders really do link up well. Minutes later Greenwood makes a break down the right-wing with some lovely footwork but decides to drag the ball wide and not cut inside on his favoured left foot, this boy can bury a chance with either but makes a poor choice in this instance.
The game is pretty open and a swooping corner from Wolves leads to what can only be described as cat-like reactions from De Gea, a great double save to deny Roman Saiss again, good positioning to deny the initial header and a springy jump back to the feet puts the – Spanish shot-stopper in the perfect place to prevent a Wolves goal after Siass’ 2nd attempt, with all the speculation Henderson could be United’s No.1 this season, De Gea is certainly staking his claim. Neves hits one from distance but his trademark effort is seen very early by De Gea and a comfortable save is made. The last few minutes have shown a clear warning sign United are not comfortable in this game, credit where it’s due, Wolves are playing some excellent football.Embed from Getty Images
GOAL!!! (80th minute) – Varane plays a driven long ball down the right wing to the dancing feet of young Mason Greenwood, a quick stepover and pushing the ball out of his feet to his right makes enough space for the teenage prodigy to fire a low shot at the GK, the pace on the ball is too much for the Wolves No.1 and the ball flicks up into the roof of the net. United are leading 1-0.
The last 15mins saw some clever game management from the more experienced Red Devils, something which fuelled the bitter end to the match, many loose tackles, unsavoury challenges and a few frustrated, hot heads led to Mike Dean, the referee, showing the yellow card around quicker than a Mexican wave could get around Molineux.
The ref was surrounded at the final whistle with many believing the United goal should not have stood! A contentious challenge on Neves by Pogba happened during the build-up of the goal, this subject was the topic of much debate but as in all professional ball games, you play to the whistle and Mike Dean had not blown at that time.
Final Score: 0-1
GOALS = Greenwood (x1)
ASSISTS = Varane (x1),
Things to noteEmbed from Getty Images
Still no Donny Van De Beek, make of that what you will.
The addition of a midfielder with a commanding presence and the ability to win the ball back with conviction is still needed, Fred for all his upsides lacks the ability to compete with a bruising Midfielder like Traore, would Rice or the other linked players have that problem?
Varane made a good start to his United Career, strong in the air at defending corners, covering Maguire well at points and getting in on the action with an assist and a passionate celebration to the goal. recruiting the World Cup winner for a bargain fee is the coup of the season. Sancho however was quiet and the united attack looked a little disjointed, it’s going to take some time for them to gel and start flowing well.
Man of the Match – David De Gea.Embed from Getty Images
This was the first clean sheet in the league since early April, the Spaniard was back to his best today, fiery with voice commands and great reflex saves ensured United stayed in the game long enough to go on and win it, if the experienced goalkeeper can emulate his previous best years we may keep many more clean sheets.
Not a great performance but in seasons past we have looked back on the scrappy wins and knew they were important. With the love of many men’s lives coming back into the fold, I’m expecting Old Trafford to be an incredible place to be at home games this year.
It’s an exciting year for sure, I’ve picked a great season to start writing.