If Manchester United ends up having a successful season, Erik ten Hag will know exactly what saved them: being down 4-0 at Brentford at half-time on matchday two on 13 August. No doubt it took this shipwreck for him to have his hands completely free. This demonstration by the absurd that the affair was unplayable by leaving the top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the captain, Harry Maguire, on the field, allowed the Dutch coach to regain control on other bases. And nothing will have better shown how slightly offbeat Ronaldo and Maguire are, in this team and in this style of play, than the stunning victory of MU, yesterday, against the leader Arsenal (3-1), fallen for the first time this season.
Fast play, a perfect connection between the throwers (Eriksen, Fernandes) and the receiver (Rashford): constantly tossed about by the superior quality of the collective game of Arsenal, who will discuss at length the opener denied to Martinelli while the he referee had decided to let play on a contact suffered by Eriksen, before changing his mind in slow motion, MU punished the Gunners on three accelerations. Two goals and an assist for Rashford, decidedly found, a goal for the rookie, the Brazilian Anthony, Old Trafford liked this very beautiful football match which perpetuated an incredible series: after leading at half-time, like yesterday (1-0), United have not lost at home since 1984.
With possession one time out of six, since the start of the season, and between 10 and 17 shots conceded (39% and 10 shots to 16, yesterday), MU has completed a fourth victory in a row, which makes ten Hag say : “ We knew how to be dangerous on quick attacks, and we defended like a team. We have to work to have more control, keep the opponent further from our goal and better retain the ball. »
Martinez-Varane, a hinge that works
The fast game was already a signature of United under Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer, but the arrival of Ronaldo had slowed it down a year ago. He’s back, like Marcus Rashford, and it’s no coincidence. It’s been a long season, and the Portuguese’s pride and talent are bound to bring him back to the surface at some point, but the reality is that one of the greatest players in history is now playing a stooge role, facing to the cruelty of having worked so hard to be eternal and to be overtaken by the passage of time. He entered late in the game yesterday for the third time in a row.
The other decisive choice of ten Hag will have been the sidelining of the captain, Harry Maguire, and the reinstallation of Raphaël Varane in central defense. Alongside the fighter Lisandro Martinez, the French chained the matches of boss: there are not only clouds, above the team of France. While Arsenal remain leaders and have paradoxically shown their progress, the Big 6 are already in the Top 7, where Brighton (4th) is only passing, and the atmosphere is much more joyful at Old Trafford: the fans do not like still not the Glazer family, but they’re gonna start loving this team.