Down The Wings

Manchester United Fan Blog

5 Things: Manchester United vs L.A.S.K Linz Europa League analysis

Manchester United hosted LASK in the Europa league Round of 16 second leg, and in all likelihood, they were already through thanks to a 5-0 away win before the season was halted. Solskjaer started a weaker starting eleven, with Maguire the only real first team player in the line-up. There was not much to report in the first half other than the massive gulf in class between to United’s first team and their much-changed line-up, who were lacklustre.

The second half started badly, as LASK went ahead through Philipp Wiesinger, who curled an excellent shot into the top corner to put the Austrians on course for a famous victory. However, Lingard, who scored his first league goal since 2018 against Leicester, equalised after an excellent pass from Mata. United got the winner with two to go, as Martial became United’s top scorer. United were from far from flawless, but they got the job done and progress into the quarter final as they look to win their first trophy for three years.

1. Mata makes his mark!

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Solskjaer was able to rotate his squad thanks to the comprehensive 5-0 away win, and one of the players that came in was, out of favour 32-year-old Juan Mata. The Spaniard has not featured heavily for United this season; however, he was the Juan Mata of old in a man-of-the-match performance that saw him assist both Manchester United goals.

Juan Mata’s first assist was a beautifully weighted ball over the top for Lingard, who simply had to beat the keeper and whilst his second was less spectacular, the composure he showed on the edge of the box to squeeze the ball back to Martial was pure class. Mata has not had much game time at Old Trafford in the past few years, but when he has, he has shown his class and proved why he is still an important squad player for the Red Devils.

2. Signings needed!

United were a far cry from the attacking side that has blown teams away since the restart, as they fielded a weaker eleven that only included captain, Maguire, from their regular side. It was a game which United had already won, courtesy of a 5-0 first leg win, so Solskjaer giving reserve players a chance was understandable, however they did not shine at all, and were outclassed by LASK until Solskjaer started to make changes. Unfortunately, the performance from Manchester United outlined the fact that they will not be able to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool for the league title as they do not have the strength and depth in the squad.

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The Red Devils must invest big in the summer to improve their squad and winning a trophy this season will be crucial to attract big names in the transfer window, such as Jadon Sancho. Solskjaer indicated that Chris Smalling could play a big part for United next season, after impressing on loan at Roma, however signing another centre back will be vital if United want to be successful next season.

3. Refreshed Lingard?

A goal scored in the 8th minute of injury time against Leicester may have just recaptured the form of Jesse Lingard. It was his first league goal since 2018. However, during the week, Lingard has taken to social media to explain the difficulties he has experienced off the pitch this season, in a very honest open letter to the fans. Lingard should be in the prime of his career and starting every week, but his performances this season, for whatever reason, have not been good enough.

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A couple of months ago it looked a cert that Lingard would be on his way out of Manchester United in the summer, however 2 goals in 2 games might have just sparked the revival of Jesse Lingard at Old Trafford. He may still not be part of Solskjaer’s plans next season, however this game time he has been earning is sure to bolster his market value. Whatever the outcome, it has been a disappointing waste for a player that had so much potential, we can only hope that Lingard can regain the form that made him a starter in the England national team.

4. Marvellous Martial

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In the build up to the game, United legend, Paul Scholes, made a comment that United should look to sign a proper no.9 in the summer like Kane in the summer rather than sign Sancho. Whilst he did not mention Martial, it is a tad disrespectful to the Frenchman, who has been United’s top scorer and arguably best player this season. Anthony Martial came on as a substitute and found the winner for United showing calmness in front of goal, playing a one-two with Mata before slotting the ball into the net. He now has 23 goals this season and 11 assists, a truly remarkable campaign for somebody that many people had written off as a waste of money. 

5. What Next?

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Manchester United will now face Copenhagen in the Europa League quarter final as they aim to win their first piece of silverware for three years. Solskjaer is aiming for his first trophy since taking charge at United. The Red Devils are favourites in the competition and it will be a good chance for Solskjaer to prove that United are back on track.

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