It has been one of those performances that has helped Manchester United exorcise some demons early in the season as they ran over reigning Premier League champions with a rampant first-half appearance at Old Trafford.
After four goals in the first 45 minutes from Smalling, Mata, Rashford and Pogba, Manchester United released Leicester City off the hook after the interval, but all Claudio Ranieri’s men managed to do was to score a consolation goal, a proper cracker from Gray.
Jose Mourinho made a clear statement after three straight defeats as the compelling 4-1 win over Leicester released plenty of pressure from both Manchester United and players alike.
Here are the 5 things we learned at Old Trafford today:
Mourinho right to drop Rooney
Manchester United managed opted to bite the bullet and drop captain Wayne Rooney for the Saturday afternoon clash against Leicester City and leaving him on the bench until the 83rd minute.
England international was subject of much criticism and scrutiny this season with his place in the starting line-up widely debated for several weeks. Having started last Sunday’s Premier League loss at Watford and against Northampton in midweek’s EFL clash, which proved to be another underwhelming performance from the 30-year-old, Jose Mourinho dropped the captain and gave the armband to Chris Smalling.
It proved to be a right decision however, as Manchester United put in a rampant performance against reigning Premier League champions, with all players on the field showing great determination and composure – which were the two thing Rooney lacked in his most recent appearances.
Leicester defence struggle terribly
Claudio Ranieri’s side is having a dreadful start to the season with the Premier League champions occupying the 12th place in the standings after six rounds.
Having already lost three matches, the Foxes proved to be quite a different team to last season’s tightly-packed unit which was so ever hard to beat.
Leicester City miss more than their midfield engine N’Golo Kante with the team’s backline arguably having been the weakest part of the team so far. Simpson, Morgan, Huth and Fuchs are lacking the energy and chemistry at the back, which was perhaps the main reason Leicester City allowed so many goals early in the season.
The four defenders put in a dismal display against Manchester United and were at fault with single one of United’s goals.
Foxes conceded four against Liverpool at Anfield, another four against Chelsea in the EFL Cup during the week and were dealt another huge blow against another top 4 contender at Old Trafford this afternoon.
United’s best performance of the season
Manchester United have recorded their fifth win of the season so far across all competitions, but their performance against Leicester City was arguably the best yet this term.
Jose Mourinho’s men got back to winning ways to answer their critics in fine style, destroying Leicester with a compelling performance.
All lines of the team worked impeccably for Red Devils, who impressed with fluent and flowing play. Manchester United players connected well, working hard to develop the attacks and build up from behind, putting great pressure on Claudio Ranieri’s with all the damage done in the first half.
Jose Mourinho will have been delighted with how his players responded to criticism and pressure, but is likely to reprimand them for lifting their foot off the gas in the second term, which ultimately had little effect on the score and overall impression given by Manchester United players however.
Key men stepped up to the plate for United
With Wayne Rooney as the man who carried huge load on his back out of the starting line-up, Manchester United’s players took even responsibility with their on-pitch duties straight from the off.
First up – Chris Smalling – who put in a commanding performance at the back, a display worthy of the captain’s armband wrapped around his arm. His goal was a cherry on top and Mourinho will have been pleased with his captain for the day.
Rooney’s direct replacement – Juan Mata – showed great movement, vision and creativity in his No 10 role, which gave Red Devils great momentum. The Spaniard went on to score one himself and cap a wonderful performance.
Marcus Rashford already got us used to him playing so well and the youngster had great impact once again with his third goal in three last games for Manchester United.
Pogba was another key man to lift huge pressure of his chest with his first-half goal. The most expensive player in the world was ever-present on the pitch against Leicester and his first ever Manchester United goal was in a way a message to his critics early in the season.French international was great in defence duties as well, wasting no passes and putting in a commanding performance for his team.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic failed to get his name on the score sheet against Leicester City, but the towering Swede still had huge impact on the game. The experienced striker was opening plenty of space with his off-ball movement for Marcus Rashford upfront and did everything he could to bag one himself, but ultimately lacked luck to put the ball past Leicester City goalkeeper.
Rashford needs to start every game
Manchester United have a brilliant gem in their ranks which needs playing time in order to be polished the right way.
Even though he is just 18 years old, the England international is a mature football player whose influence in United’s play has been immense from the start he was included in first team duties.
Up until the game against Leicester City, Marcus Rashford has started only once in the Premier League this season with Zlatan Ibrahimovic the first-choice striker at centre-forward position and Wayne Rooney as a support from behind.
Rashford has shown great understanding of the situation, but has used every chance he got and well deserves his place among the starting players.
His seventh goal in total this season for both club and country was another proof of his emerging talent and undeniable quality and there is no doubt that the youngster has given Jose Mourinho plenty to think about early in the season.
MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea 7 – Valencia 6.5, Bailly 7, Smalling 7.5, Blind 7 – Herrera 6.5, Pogba 7.5 – Lingard 6.5 (Carrick 6), Mata 8 (Young 6), Rashford 7.5 (Rooney 6) – Ibrahimovic 7
Unused subs: Fellaini, Fosu-Mensah, Rojo, Romero.
LEICESTER CITY: Zieler 6 – Simpson 6, Morgan 6, Huth 6, Fuxhs 6 – Mahrez 6, Amartey 6, Drinkwater 6.5, Albrighton 6 (Schlupp 6) – Slimani 6.5, Vardy 6 (Gray 7)
Unused subs: Hamer, Hernandez, Okazaki, Ulloa.
REFEREE: Michael Dean