They were unfortunate to record a win over West Ham in the Premier League last weekend despite firing no less than 17 goal attempts against Slaven Bilic’s men.
But Manchester United managed to make amends in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night and record a morale-boosting 2-1 triumph which sees them make it to the semi-finals of the competition.
What we witnessed tonight was a compelling triumph for Jose Mourinho’s men and here are the five things we learned from the game at Old Trafford:
Did Red Devils break a hoodoo?
It was a much-needed win for Manchester United, who claimed to have been cursed.
Much to the difference of other dominating home performances which ended in Manchester United failing to win despite being in utter control, four goals in West Ham’s net was a fair reflection of Manchester United’s dominance tonight as Jose Mourinho’s men stroll into the EFL semi-finals.
Antony Martial and Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a brace each completed a compelling triumph for Jose Mourinho and his team, who were on top for the vast majority of the match.
The towering Swede open the scoring only two minutes inside the game as Manchester United went on a flying start to the game. The hosts got pegged back by their former graduate Ashley Fletcher however five minutes after the half-hour mark, but United got back behind the steering wheel in the second half, never lifting their foot off the throttle.
Record-levelling goal did not come for Wayne Rooney, but tonight’s match will be remembered for the involvement of Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was given a warm welcome from the stands, with fans applauding his every touch with the ball.
The German international had a pop on goal, but failed to capitalize on his Old Trafford cameo.
Rooney back to his best
Could it be that a change of appearance has some magical powers on football players?
Messi dyed his hair blonde and grew a beard in order to kick-start his personal form and it yielded results, and apparently, the same formula seems to be working with Wayne Rooney.
The England captain endured his fair share of criticism at the beginning of the season at Manchester United. The pressure culminated when a British tabloid published photos of Rooney under the alcohol influence on a wedding he supposedly crashed on, but being a real professional that he is, Rooney overcome the media scrutiny and appears to be well back on his best.
Manchester United all-rounder is playing with restored confidence and self-belief and continues to make significant contribution both in defence and in the final third of the pitch.
Still with only one Premier League goal to his name this season, Rooney managed to score two in the UEFA Europa League in the month of November – at Fenerbahce and against Feyenoord – capping his wonderful performances for the club.
Standing on brink of Manchester United history, Wayne Rooney did his best to score a goal tonight and equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 Manchester United goals, a record which stands for long 43 years, but will be forced to wait a bit more for getting his name in the history books.
Still, with the form he is currently in, it won’t be too long before Rooney actually made it.
Mkhitaryan making a strong case for himself
The Armenian international endured a tough start to his Manchester United career.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was brought as one of the high-profile signings this summer, but his Borussia Dortmund transfer was widely lamented as the 27-year-old forward made just two games for Red Devils.
Still, Mkhiratyan began to see more playing time of late and has indeed started to make a strong case for himself with compelling performances.
Having initially displayed a worrying lack of composure and fitness required for the physically demanding competition such as the Premier League, the Armenian is slowly gaining footing, as he remains eager to prove a point to himself, his manager and general football-loving population.
With back-to-back appearances against West Ham, Mkhiratyan managed to record two assists on the night – both for Ibrahimovic and Martial’s first goal – and possibly convince Jose Mourinho to have him more included in the games to come.
West Ham lack game plan
Winless in their last five matches across all competitions, West Ham have managed to undo the three-match winning run they hit earlier in October.
Slaven Bilic’s men are struggling and their issues are quite worrying given the last term’s flying form of the club. Formidable against top teams and particularly dangerous on the road, West Ham were a force to be reckoned with, much a different team to one we’re seeing this season.
Lingering dangerously above the relegation zone, Slaven Bilic’s men were fortunate in last week’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United, but Lady Luck turned its back on them on this particular night which came as no surprise given West Ham’s lack of idea, creativity upfront and general lack of clearly visible gameplay.
The Hammers attack in waves, seem disorganized in the middle of the pitch, whereas their defence looks like an entirely separate part of the team.
Wednesday’s defeat was the 10th loss in last 12 away EFL games for West Ham against Premier League opposition and just another proof of Hammers’ terrible form this season Slaven Bilic will have difficult time turning around.
Payet not the player he was last season
Dimitri Payet joined West Ham in the summer of 2015 and wasted no time in showing great potential and quality.
His seamless transition from Ligue 1 to Premier League resulted in the 29-year-old signing a new bumper deal running until 2021 in February 2016 and Hammers’ fans had high hopes for their talisman forward.
Payet scored nine goals and created stunning 116 chances in 30 Premier League appearances last season and extended his great for to Euro 2016, but still his current performances are well below par.
The French international is frustrated by his team’s lack of form and is failing to display inspiring performances and lead his team forward which is expected from a player of his caliber.
One goal and mere 43 chances created in the Premier League and one more goal in the EFL Cup are enough of evidence of his worrying lack of form, followed by disturbing lack of effort from time to time.
The Frenchman could have scored at Old Trafford tonight and it was after his shot that former United man Fletcher scored a first-time leveler, but Payet appeared not particularly keen to join his team’s celebration, adding fuel to speculation that Bilic’s star man could be on his way out of the club in January.
MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea 6 – Valencia 7, Jones 6.5, Rojo 7, Shaw 6.5 (Blind 6.5) – Herrera 6.5, Carrick 7 – Mkhitaryan 7.5 (Rashford 6), Rooney 7, Martial 8 (Schweinsteiger 6) – Ibrahimovic 7.5
Unused subs: Lingard, Mata, Rashford, Romero, Schneiderlin
WEST HAM: Adrian 6 – Kouyate 7, Reid 6.5, Ogbonna 6.5 – Antonio 6.5 (Lanzini 6), Obiang 6.5, Fernandes 6, Cresswell 6.5 (Masuaku 6) – Feghouli 6.5, Fletcher 7, Payet 6.5 (Zaza 6)
Unused subs: Collins, Noble, Nordtveit, Randolph
REFEREE: Mike Jones
Other results of the evening
Arsenal 0-2 Southampton
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