Manchester United were coming off three consecutive draws in the Premier League. It was clear they needed to start winning soon if they want to keep their slim title chances alive. And that’s exactly what they did.
A convincing 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park sent The Red Devils to second place of the standings. Second-half goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard were enough for United to secure a much-needed win, kicking the 2018 calendar year with a huge win.
Here are three things we learned from this game:
Anthony Martial’s best role in as a striker
Martial did not have an easy start to his career at Manchester United. However, it seemed he was beginning to turn things around this season. Several impressive displays off the bench gave him the chance to start on a regular basis, but he failed to represent a threat on the left wing. He has the traits to excel on that role, but surprisingly he looked uncomfortable on that position. And the lone explanation was that his best role is to play as a striker. He evidenced that once again in Monday’s contest against Everton.
Considering both Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were out due to injuries, Jose Mourinho decided to play Martial upfrtont alongside Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata on the wings. The move paid off, as the French international looked active and dangerous in the centre of the attacking line. In fact, Martial scored the team’s first goal with a beautiful shot from the edge of the box that went into an impossible angle for the opposing goalkeeper.
Martial is not likely to send either Lukaku or Ibrahimovic to the bench. But he is a more-than-reliable-alternative to cover several roles upfront. And his proficiency as a striker is certainly something that could give United a scoring punch in the final third.
Phil Jones delivered another impressive performance
There has been a lot of talk about how Manchester United need to strengthen their defence ahead of the January transfer window. Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling are injured, so the team is a bit short on depth when it comes to the centre-back role. Several experts believe United must sign someone during the transfer window. But one player disagrees with that notion. One player that has stood out of late with a series of stellar displays on the defensive end. That’s Phil Jones.
The former Blackburn Rovers youngster delivered an impressive performance against The Toffees. Pairing with Marcos Rojo at CB, the England international looked accurate on his touches, tackled superbly, and was a nightmare for the opposing defence. The 25-year-old finished the game with five clearances, three blocked shots, and one tackle. He also won five of the nine duels he engaged in.
Jones might never become a world-class defender. In fact, he could be relegated to a secondary role in case Bailly returns from injury and United signs another centre-back. But there is no question he is playing well at the moment. And while United have struggled of late, Jones is not the player to blame for the recent results.
Everton can’t wait for Cenk Tosun’s arrival
Everton once again struggled on the attacking end. The Toffees went with a three-man attacking line and Wayne Rooney operating as a n° 10, but the move did not work out. Rooney failed to make an impact due to the presence of Nemanja Matic in midfield, and the attacking trio of Nikola Vlasic, Yannick Bolasie, and Oumar Niasse did not represent much of a threat. In fact, Everton ended the game with just six shots, and none of those were on target.
Considering some of the Everton signings this past summer flopped massively, the Merseyside club needs to find a scoring punch immediately. But the solution for their scoring woes might be Cenk Tosun. The Turkish international is close to complete a move to the Goodison Park outfit, and he would definitively improve the team’s quality on the attacking third. Tosun has proved his worth in the UEFA Champions League, and he shouldn’t have problems to adjust to the pace of the Premier League.
After seeing Everton’s poor display against United, it’s clear they need to improve their attack. And Tosun might be just what they need to start turning things around.
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