Old Trafford saw its stature as a fortress continue on Saturday, as Manchester United thrashed Newcastle United 4-1.
The Red Devils came back from a 1-0 deficit provided by Dwight Gayle’s early goal, as Rafa Benitez’s men couldn’t hold it. Goals from Martial, Smalling, Pogba, and Lukaku saw them sail through to 38 consecutive home victories.
David De Gea- 7.2
Unable to keep a clean sheet tonight, De Gea was helpless as Gayle’s goal drifted through to the edge of the goal just fourteen minutes into the match. But during the rest of the encounter, he was in his normal top form, particularly at one moment in the second half, where a shot destined for goal was denied brilliantly by his hands in what he made to look like an easy save.
Antonio Valencia- 7.6
The captain was in his usual form and dominated his flank quite brilliantly. It was his runs that kept the Devils afloat during the moments in the first half when they were a goal down. The normal eye for nearly perfect passes ensured that stability was maintained to his side, particularly in the attack, due to runs for balls that might have gone off for a goal kick.
Victor Lindelof- 6.0
Despite being given the start by Mourinho, the new signing failed to show why the trust was well held. Once more a lackluster display and arguably the player most responsible for Gayle’s goal going through, as his slip robbed De Gea of another clean sheet. A major factor in the Mancunian side’s uneasy defense in the opening half.
Chris Smalling- 8
The defender with a goal. Smalling’s well-found header ensured that the home side went into the halftime break ahead and in high spirits. Despite seeming wobbly in a few matches this season, he has certainly proven the choice to be selected ahead of Bailly to be a good one. The attacking triumph was bettered only by a good defensive showing, particularly in the second half.
Ashley Young- 8.5
Who would have thought that the prodigal return would perform so well as a wing back? But that is precisely what Young has done today and over the weeks too. His assist for Smalling’s header was just one among several great ones into the box and the Englishman looks to continue to be in prime form.
Paul Pogba- 9.0
Easily the Man of the Match, and what a way to mark a return from injury. Strong with a goal and an assist, the Frenchman proved to be precisely what United have been missing in their past few games. Linking the play with Matic and Lukaku, he was in phenomenal form, and one could not have believed that he was out for weeks. Despite being subbed late into the game, he left his mark and will hope to do so for several more matches.
Nemanja Matic- 7.3
Usually a fine player, today his tactics seemed more on the uneasy side. Or perhaps it was just a result of Pogba’s return that saw him return to his usual role of manning the front of the defense and freeing up attacking runs. Regardless, he held on to his trademark style of passing and was a vital cog in the victory.
Juan Mata- 7.5
If not for the late assist to Lukaku’s goal, his contribution in the evening’s encounter wasn’t what one should expect for a player of his caliber. Virtually invisible in the first half, it was only after the break that he was successfully able to link Rashford and Pogba to provide Lukaku with the required runs. Given the chance ahead of currently form shy Mkhitaryan, the Spaniard will certainly be in Mourinho’s books for a player that demands improvement.
Marcus Rashford- 7.7
Manchester’s young lad continued his run of great form, and once more proved Mourinho right for being included in the starting eleven. The assist to Pogba’s goal was a selfless one, and proved to be the moment where the home side was assured victory.
Anthony Martial- 7.8
The Frenchman was given a rare start by Mourinho, worthy of his performance during the international break. Martial’s powerful header into the back of the net in the 37th minute brought his side back into the fray, and was the first nail into Newcastle’s coffin for the match. His antics will certainly demand more consistent playing time to be given in the future
Romelu Lukaku- 8.0
Undoubtedly the player who will be most relieved by the encounter, as it ensured that his drought ended. The 70th-minute goal was skillful and showed exactly why the club purchased him. After the substitution of Ibrahimovic, he shifted to the right flank, where his moments were best forgotten despite one well-placed ball into the box. With the return of the Swede, the pressure to score will be lifted from him, but he will look to build on the impressive tally in his debut season.
Marouane Fellaini- 6.6
Brought in at the 70th minute when United had entirely secured the resounding victory, Fellaini could have well made it five with a strong attempt that was ultimately denied, much to the disappointment of Mourinho.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic- 7.0
While he couldn’t mark his return with a goal, the King was in prime condition and did not have even a slight hint of being rusty. A cameo shot, despite being wide off the gloves of Elliot, certainly provided one for the cameramen.
Ander Herrera- 6.0
Brought in too late to make a real impact, his cameo was but an attempt on his part to make a case to provide him game time in the upcoming matches.
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.