Manchester United were the victorious English side as they managed to defeat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Shanghai in the International Champions Cup.
Anthony Martial began the scoring in the first half, making the best out of an Andrea Pereira pass. It was Spurs who took control in the second half, with Lucas Moura succeeding in beating Sergio Romero to score, breaking the clean-sheets that United have kept so far this pre-season.
However, it was a spirited run from Angel Gomes in the closing minutes that gave United victory, as the academy graduate’s shot was able to inch past the Spurs keeper to end in a brilliant goal.
1. Martial at No.9
Anthony Martial was finally able to find his name on the scoresheet this game and will be eager to continue this form into the campaign as well. The crucial difference this time around was that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to deploy him in the no.9 position rather than up wide.
This tactic worked brilliantly as the Frenchman posed a constant threat in the first half and ought to have scored at least two goals.
This ought to be the way that United shape the former Monaco star, particularly since the pacey presence of Daniel James complements the attack. Of course, Old Trafford will certainly miss his mouth-watering cut-ins from wide.
2. Juan Mata as a No.10
This game seems to be one where Solskjaer solved many selection-related dilemmas. During his time at Chelsea, Juan Mata was a threat in the no.10 position and has made his preference for the central-attacking role quite evident. However, all three gaffers in David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho rarely deployed him there.
In the second half, the experienced Spaniard was well beyond impressive in the middle and ought to be played only there. This was particularly useful in the end, as Mata’s control over the direction of the play enabled the Red Devils to kill the game effectively after Gomes’ goal- a feat Solskjaer struggled with last season.
3. Eric Bailly Injured Again
Pre-season injuries are always the dread of any side and United were plagued with yet another one as Eric Bailly picked up a knock during the fixture. The defender has been quite prone to injuries and that has severely hampered his chance at making a steady impact at Old Trafford.
This further highlights the need for the club to secure a capable centre-back signing before the end of the window. The Harry Maguire saga has been in limbo for quite a while now and with just under two weeks left till the commencement of the Premier League season, United will have to act fast.
4. ‘Daniel James, Daniel James, Running Down The Wings’
Whoever scouted Daniel James ought to be given a splendid raise. Deployed on the left-wing, the Welsh winger appeared even more effective and it is evident that United supporters are in love with his pace.
He has been attracting a lot of tackles, akin to his fellow fresh signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and it is clear that many of United’s future goals will come through his passes and crosses into the box. Simply put, in him, the Red Devils have retained the sort of dangerous winger whose company they have traditionally always enjoyed.
5. Is a Midfield Signing Really Required?
Much frustration has been raised over United’s inability to sign a midfielder this summer, with Bruno Fernandes and Sean Longstaff the obvious pending sagas.
However, repeatedly during the pre-season, Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay have made a remarkable impact at the heart of the club’s lineup and today was no different. This begs the question as to whether the club should really splash obscene amounts of cash over a midfielder when their homegrown talents are displaying so much progress.
United don’t have the Champions League to fret about this season and can very much afford to let these two names make the midfield their own.
Instead, the club should look to make a capable right-winger signing as Daniel James seems tailored for the left-wing and Martial is likely to occupy the no.9 spot.