Manchester United kicked off their Premier League campaign in the best way possible, winning 4-0 against West Ham on Sunday.
Romelu Lukaku scored a brace, with two very well taken goals. Anthony Martial, who came on as a substitute, scored with a very slick finish and Paul Pogba thumped one in from long range to complete the rout.
United started off with a 4-2-3-1, with Valencia and Blind playing as full backs, and with a pairing of Phil Jones and Eric Bailly in the heart of defence. Matic and Pogba sat in front of the back four, while Mhikitaryan played just behind Lukaku, with Rashford and Mata on the flanks.
West Ham started off with a similar 4-2-3-1 which however turned into a 4-5-1 as the game progressed. Javier Hernandez played upfront as the lone striker, with new signing Arnautovic on the left wing, Andre Ayew on the right, and Fernandez in the middle. Club favourite Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang provided defensive cover for the back four, which comprised of veteran Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna and Masuaku.
The fluid, dynamic game of Manchester unit was on display for all to see. Mata and Mhikitaryan provided the craft and guile, Rashford provided the pace, and Lukaku and Pogba provided the physicality.
United’s attack on the whole had a good outing. The chemistry between them was evident. The long balls in from Pogba and the darting runs behind the opposition defence from Mata, Mhikitaryan and Rashford were synchronized with pinpoint accuracy. Lukaku showed the United fans that he was worth the money and the effort it had taken to bring him to the football club. Two goals aside, his link up play and runs off the ball showed a lot of promise for someone who was a new acquisition to the side.
Marcus Rashford, the man needs no introduction. He absolutely terrorized the West Ham defence with his raw pace. Zabaleta did manage to stop him a couple of times, but on most occasions, he managed to wreak havoc behind enemy lines. He set up Lukaku’s first and almost scored himself, with a curling effort that thumped into the far post.
The best player on the pitch however, was the man sitting in front of the United back four, Nemanja Matic. The acquisition of Matic has brought in a sense of steely calm in the United camp. The United defence breath easy knowing that there is a man that they can rely on to hold the ball and absorb the pressure. Matic was simply superb, pulling the strings from midfield. He got the ball, held it and passed it up when the avenue opened. He won 4 aerial duels, completed 59 passes and 7 take ons, proving just why he is the man for the job.
The United defence had an unperturbed outing. Bailly did put in a few tackles and Jones made a couple interceptions, but it was a majorly uneventful evening for the United back four. Blind and Valencia were focussing more on putting the crosses into the box than heading them out.
West Ham had a horrid outing on the pitch today. They had no answer to United’s attacking play and barely produced any attacking moves of their own. They did have one opportunity to equalize before the break, but Fernandes fired the ball straight at De Gea, who produced a strong save. Javier Hernandez was isolated up the pitch, with the rest of the team behind the ball.
With Ayew, Arnautovic and Chicharito, West Ham know that they will have better games than this. This was a tough place to start for the Hammers, but Slaven Bilic will be hoping for better things as the Hammers continue their journey on the road, travelling to St.Mary’s to play Southampton next.
For United and Jose Mourinho, this could be the start of something special. United will definitely face tougher fixtures, and tougher spells, but the squad looks to be in good shape. While the United faithful will be hoping that this will be a title winning season, only time will tell whether this side have the temperament and the mentality to be Champions.
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