Manchester United brushed aside last placed Crystal Palace with yet another emphatic 4-0 win. A double from unlikely hero Marouane Fellaini, sandwiched between goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku, continued the Red Devils’ flying start to the new season.
Here, we look at the 5 talking points from the encounter at Old Trafford:
5. Jose Gives Nothing Away
Ahead of the game against CSKA Moscow, Jose Mourinho cast doubts over the fitness levels of three players – Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia. Before this game, he offered no confirmation about whether the trio were fit and ready to play any of the 90 minutes.
However, surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, depending on how used to Mourinho’s mind games you are), all three started and completed the entire game at Old Trafford, with Fellaini even finding the net twice.
Pretty evident then that Mourinho held back from giving out too much detail to keep Roy Hodgson guessing which team would come out of the tunnel.
4. Martial Must Start
“Tony Martial came from France, the English press said he had no chance. £50 million down the drain, Tony Martial scores again!” After his magical first season at the club, many of those who questioned his ability and United’s decision to splash so much money on an 18-year-old were silenced.
However, just a season later, it looked like they were beginning to have a point. Jose Mourinho’s arrival saw the Frenchman struggle for minutes on the pitch. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival saw him lose the number 9 shirt and a favoured spot as the main striker, plus Mourinho’s admiration for Marcus Rashford didn’t help his case either.
Off the pitch, his split from his wife also had an impact. He seemed rather unhappy, and the frustration was evident in his game in the few minutes he managed to play last term.
This season, however, Martial has returned with a new-found happiness. There is a freedom to his game that was sorely missing last year, and the spark that lit up his first season at Old Trafford seems to have returned. He is going at defenders, making things happen on the pitch, and is proving to be a nightmare to defend against.
The 21-year-0ld was incredible against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, and coming on as a 70th minute substitute for Rashford today, he was a handful. He created a chance and nearly scored just minutes after coming on, and grabbed the assist for Lukaku’s goal in the dying moments of the game.
The form he is in at the moment warrants a place in the starting XI without a doubt. The only question now is, who do you drop? Everyone in this United side is in the form of their lives, so it is rather unfortunate for the talented youngster. As long as he keeps playing like this though, it won’t be long before he forces Mourinho’s hand.
3. Hodgson Gets A First Taste Of The Job On His Hands
Crystal Palace are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, and there just doesn’t seem to be a way out for them at the moment. The Eagles have played 7 games so far, and the defeat to United meant they are the only team to have lost all 7 games.
Sitting above them are Bournemouth and Swansea, who played out a drab 0-0 draw today, are possess 4 and 5 points respectively – a gap that is by no means big, and can be easily closed down. But Roy Hodgson definitely has an incredibly tough task on his hands at the moment. The Premier League is a very unforgiving competition, and Hodgson has got to find a way to galvanize his team before the distance between them and safety becomes too far to reach.
Despite being 2, 3, and then 4 nil down at Old Trafford, Palace actually remained positive and tried to find an opening, although they rarely ever troubled the keeper. Unlike Everton’s visit to the Theater of Dreams, they didn’t just sit back and let United throw the kitchen sink at them, which can be considered a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, and Hodgson has to find a way to build on that now.
2. Return To Form For The Once Unwanted Men
Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Phil Jones, and Marouane Fellaini. Four players that were absolutely derided by Manchester United fans, who were desperate to see them go out the door along with the beleaguered David Moyes when he was sacked. Out of those, Jones is the only one who could claim to have some affection from the fans. His biggest issues were his injury woes, and his no-nonsense old school defending often saw him spend more time on the treatment table than on the pitch.
As for the other three, there seemed to be no way back with the United faithful, who never hesitated to yell abuse every time those three names were uttered. Four years down the line, and the players are still at the club, but boy have they turned their careers around under Mourinho.
Fellaini has been superb since last season, Ashley Young has made the left-back spot his own in recent times, and Jones has formed an impenetrable pairing with Eric Bailly at the heart of United’s defense, and is even managing to stay fit and injury free. Smalling is third choice center-back at the moment, but ahead of new signing Victor Lindelöf.
Young was fantastic yet again against Palace, grabbing a marvelous assist for Fellaini’s first goal, and regularly beating Andros Townsend – a man who was supposed to be doing that to the veteran Englishman. Fellaini scored two brilliantly taken goals, and is putting up some solid displays in the absence of Paul Pogba. Jones kept his sixth clean sheet of the season with a confident display at the back. It is fair to say that having once been United’s liabilities, they have now turned into precious assets.
1. ‘It Really Is 4-0 FC’
This was United’s FIFTH 4-0 win of the season in just nine games so far. There isn’t much to say apart from the fact that they are absolutely flying. It is incredible to think just a year ago, they were crying out for goals and a regular goalscorer.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was too heavily relied upon last season, and his 28-goal tally was close to half the number they scored in the whole Premier League campaign – 54 to be exact, which was 24 less than Arsenal, who finished a place above them in 5th. When news came out that Ibra would be out till at least January next year, warning bells sounded loud.
However, United have already scored 21 goals in the league – 32 if you include the Champions League and Carabao cup wins – and are only 7 games into the new season, with 31 games still to play. The goals are flying in from every part of the pitch – United have 9 different goal scorers so far. Lukaku has been scoring in every single game bar one, and his record stands at 11 goals in 9 games he has taken part in. Things are finally starting to look up at Old Trafford.
Cross town rivals Manchester City’s recent exploits have seen them catch up with United, and somehow, score one more as well, and their 1-0 win against champions Chelsea has seen them remain atop by a single goal going into the two-week-long international break. However, there still remains a genuine feeling at Old Trafford that this is their title to win.
Manchester United fan, Wayne Rooney is his role model. Passionate writer who has written for several sites in the past. He’s also an aspiring pianist and creates background music for BlameFootball’s Youtube channel.