Saturday, September 23, 2017

Manchester United a different team this season

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 20 Aug 2017

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PogbaOn Saturday, Manchester United defeated Swansea 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium to make it two wins out of two for the Red Devils in the Premier League. It was a second consecutive game that saw Jose Mourinho’s team score four goals without reply.

It may seem too early in the season to make any judgements on United, but there seems to be a massive difference in the Red Devils from last season.

Players are now accustomed to the Premier League

One of the big factors in United’s strong start has been the performances of midfielder Paul Pogba and attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Pogba has already collected two goals and as many assists, while Mkhitaryan has provided four assists so far this season.

Both players arrived at Old Trafford with big expectations last summer. However, the pair struggled to have an impact on the United team. Unsurprisingly, some questioned Pogba’s then world-record fee.

Pogba had previously spent time at United in his early career. However, he barely saw the first-team during his first spell at the club. The Premier League was a new experience for him last season.

Meanwhile, Mkhitaryan failed to earn a regular first-team place in the Premier League. A record of four goals and just one assist in his debut campaign in England was disappointing. The Armenian international arrived with impressive stats from his time at Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

The early signs are that the pair have now become accustomed to life in the top-flight. They had proven in big European leagues in the past that they are top players. If they find their form then United will be an exciting team to watch this season.

New arrivals showing their worth

Every summer Manchester United spends big on new additions. This summer the Red Devils two biggest arrivals, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku are already having a big impact.

Matic’s arrival from Chelsea was surprising. It was a major surprise that the champions let the Serbian leave and to a title rival too. On form, Matic is the perfect defensive midfielder. Mourinho has signed him twice and his influence on the Red Devils team is already evident.

Matic’s presence in the United team means that Pogba has more freedom to attack. He also provides excellent protection to the Red Devils defence. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte reportedly did not want the midfielder to leave the champions.

Belgian international striker Romelu Lukaku has continued where he left off at Everton last season, by scoring goals. The big money summer signing has scored three goals in his first two Premier League so far.

However, his performance against Swansea attracted criticism from some observers. The striker can still improve, which is quite scary for opposition teams. His finisher has been good, but his all-around play needs to improve.

Lukaku has the potential to become an even better striker in the future. With the players around him at United, he could be even more prolific than last season.

Still early in the season

The league campaign is only a few games old, but there is a sense that Manchester United are a much more dangerous team this season. At times last season the Red Devils struggled to dispatch inferior teams, especially on home soil.

The key to putting that right this season may just be Romelu Lukaku. The 24-year-old had a good record against the so-called ‘lesser teams’ in the English top-flight for Everton. He earned himself a reputation as a flat-track bully and that is all he has to be at United.

Mourinho will park the bus in big games and more often than not, the Portuguese boss will come out on top.

United are currently odds of 11/8 to win the Premier League title, which makes Mourinho’s side second favourites. Despite their promising opening to the new campaign, their position has not really changed. Neighbours Manchester City are still the title favourites.

However, if and that is a big if, United can carry their form from the opening two games of the season into the rest of the campaign, then the Red Devils will definitely be there or thereabouts in the race for the title this season.

Is Manchester United a different team from last season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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Duarte Fartwort
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Duarte Fartwort

Pogba has scored twice in 2 games, thanks.

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