Manchester United 4 Leicester City 1: Pogba, Herrera shine in midfield and other talking points

Manchester United reigned supreme at Old Trafford as they ran away with a 4-1 win in front of a delirious home crowd against defending Premier League champions Leicester City.

The two teams came into the match needing a win, but Mourinho and Manchester United showed it was the home team that wanted it more. They ruled the roost in the first half with, the Red Devils going into half-time with an unassailable 4-0 lead thanks to goals from Chris Smalling, captain for the day, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata. The Hard Tackle entails a few take-aways from the pounding received by the Foxes.

1. From mediocrity to alacrity for Manchester United as Mourinho snaps losing run

Manchester United were accused of putting in mediocre performances as they slipped to defeats against Feyenoord and Watford within a matchday’s space, which only increased the significance of the match against Leicester City. Mourinho dropped Wayne Rooney to the bench and chose to start Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford on either wings with Juan Mata in the middle.

The change paid dividends as Leicester City were unable to cope with United’s pressure and pace up-front, as the on-lookers were mesmerised by the football played by the Red Devils which was reminiscent of the United of old.

The statistic only goes to prove how dominant and one-sided the match was in the first-half and the Red Devils then cooled off in the second half with the win virtually assured in the first 45 minutes.

2. Herrera the right man to facilitate the awakening of the beast in Pogba

One of the main talking points of the game was the freedom with which Pogba ran up the pitch and at times, even made runs past Ibrahimovic making him the furthest man on the pitch. While this could be down to the superstar’s intent, one could easily see the calming influence of Herrera in the midfield.

Herrera showed tenacity in the midfield and while he himself is known for venturing forward, he stuck to the midfield position working as an enabler for Pogba. The Spaniard made 6 interceptions in the whole match, only 1 less than Eric Bailly and more than any other United player on the pitch. It might be time for Mourinho to look at the potential of an altogether new pairing at the centre of the park for the Red Devils (stats via whoscored).

3. Chinks in the Ranieri armour starting to emerge this season ?

Claudio Ranieri did the impossible as he marshalled his troops at Leicester City to an unprecedented title triumph in the Premier League last season. One of the pillars of the Foxes’ success was the tenacity of his defensive and the willingness of his players to do the dirty work, something which has gone amiss this season.

Leicester City have now lost 3 games already this season with only 6 games played thus far which equals the number of games Ranieri’s side lost in the whole of last season. But, it is the manner of the defeat that is worrysome for the defending champions having conceded 4 goals in each of the three losses against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, which shows that the squad has been unable to match up against the top sides this season.

4. First signs of crack in the happy Leicester dressing room ?

Leicester City seem like a tightly-knit and close group of happy men in the dressing room as the Foxes lifted the title. But, the cracks are slowly starting to appear. Despite continuous assurances from Ranieri that Vardy and Mahrez are happy to be staying with Leicester, their performances have somehow conveyed the exact opposite up until now and against Manchester United, we saw more of the same.

The statistic probably backs Ranieri’s decision to bring both the players off at half-time and despite his explanation that he was reserving them for the Champions League match up ahead, there seems to be something more to the story that the Italian has chosen to leave out.

The substitution almost seemed like a statement to the two stars that they were not above the team and the team also seem to respond well to the substitution as Leicester looked miles better than the first half.

5. Defence still a GRAY area for Manchester United

While the attack was on fire in the first half for Manchester United, it was believed that the defence would step up in the second half to make sure Leicester are unable to even muster up a decent fight-back. But, the Foxes did trouble the United defence and if not for a few loose shots, could have found themselves more than the one goal that Demarai Gray scored.

What Gray did was exceptional and perhaps no one is to blame for that. But, the United defence seemed almost complacent in the second half as they started sitting deep and not closing down the opposition with the same zeal and hunger as in the first-half.

Complacency is exactly what Mourinho cannot afford to creep in, as unlike the case on Saturday, it may just be the difference between a good result and points dropped.

It looks like Mourinho has had a decent idea of the best attack and midfield pairings and it is up to the Portuguese again to figure out how to line up his defence in order to achieve the results of the first-half as well as avoiding the second half performance.

Leave Comment


Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.