Manchester United spent big in the summer in an attempt to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
The likes of Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian arrived in the summer, along with deadline day signing Anthony Martial.
Yesterday’s 3-2 win at Southampton moved the Red Devils up to second place in the Premier League table, just two points behind arch-rivals Manchester City.
There were two heroes for Louis van Gaal’s team on the south coast, in young striker Martial and Spanish ‘keeper David de Gea. Both players were vital to United’s victory.
De Gea’s future at United may have been in doubt in the summer, but it certainly has not affected his performances, as the Spanish international produced a string of superb saves to deny the Saints. He showed on the south coast just why the Red Devils were so keen to hang on to his ample talents.
Youngster Martial arrived at United for a big fee and questions were asked about whether his signing was a gamble. However, the 19-year-old has hit the ground running in the Premier League.
The French international scored on his debut as a substitute against Liverpool last weekend and showed that he can be clinical in front of goal by scoring twice against the Saints.
The young striker is highly-rated, but very raw. His pace and finishing was just too good for United’s opponents though.
It is still very early days in his Manchester United career, but the early signs suggest that Anthony Martial will be a success at United. The Red Devils desperately needed a new striker and Martial was seen as a panic buy.
The fact that he was regarded as one of the brightest young attacking players in Europe prior to his move to United seemed to have been ignored by some, simply due to the size of his fee.
United boss Van Gaal moved to quell talk of United winning the Premier League title by telling Sky Sports: “Of course, we shall always strive for it, we also did last year, but you can’t expect from a team in transition already a title, but when we are close we shall grab it.
“For the first time, we controlled the match better, we played more to kill the game. After the Champions League match against PSV you could see they were more tired in the last 15 minutes.
“The players are doing it, they are performing. I have to say it was also fantastic from Martial and Depay.”
The word transitional period gets bandied about quite a bit by Premier League bosses, usually used as an excuse for failure. However, United do have a lot of new players that need to be integrated into a squad that also saw a lot of new additions last summer.
The likes of Darmian, Schweinsteiger, Depay and Martial are all new to the Premier League, but most seem to have settled into life in England pretty well so far.
Manchester United are far from being the perfect team, as last week’s defeat against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League proved. It may take more time for the Red Devils to be true Premier League title contenders.
However, Manchester City’s defeat at home against West Ham on Saturday may give the Red Devils hope that the Citizens are fallible this season. Prior to the match against the Hammers, City had looked imperious in the Premier League.
They had won all five of their league games and had not even conceded a goal. The home defeat against Slaven Bilic’s team may just plant a seed of doubt in the City players’ minds and knock their confidence.
City face a tricky looking trip to face Spurs on Saturday lunchtime, while United have what looks on paper a comfortable home game against struggling Sunderland at Old Trafford in one of the 3PM kick-offs.
It means that if City are beaten by Spurs and, as expected, United defeat the Black Cats then United would be top of the table by Saturday evening.
Manchester United has already shown this season that they may not have enough quality to win the Premier League title this season. However, with the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in poor form this season then United definitely have a chance of claiming the title this season.
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