5 things we learned as Man United lost to West Ham, Martial is down again!
Manchester United was defeated by West Ham 0-1 at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup on a taut and stressful night of football.
What did we learn from the match?
1. Dawson & Diop show depth
Man United poured up the pressure, firing crosses and passes into the box, but Dean Henderson came up with the crucial saves in the end.
Craig Dawson and Issa Diop are responsible for this. The centre-back duo was massive, getting their heads and feet into everything United threw at them. Diop finished the night with six clearances, while Dawson had five. The game’s two highest totals. Noble contributed four points as well. Greenwood was the only United defender who truly terrorized the Hammers, but guess who was there to clear his crosses? Dawson or Diop, you guessed it.
2. Martial is down again
In Solskjaer’s first full season, he was a revelation, scoring 23 goals in 48 games. He was back in the No. 9 jersey, and he finally appeared to be ready to take the next step in his career, putting his talent to good use and becoming a world-class superstar.
In 2020/21, he only scored seven times.
Tonight was his last chance to make a case for a place in the starting XI, but he delivered his poorest performance yet. The man lacked presence, penetration, and nothing else. There were a few good films, but not nearly enough for someone wearing United’s number nine.
Martial has a large fan base, but based on this season in general and this game in particular, he is in danger of losing his place.
3. Juan Mata: collective king
Mata gave an outstanding performance for an hour tonight. The Reds never managed to score while he was on the field, although Mata got the closest when a frantic Alphonse Areola touched his improvised half-volley onto the crossbar.
But it wasn’t even Mata’s greatest shot; it was the Spaniard’s effect on the rest of the team that deserved praise. United played with more collective cohesion than their starting XI despite fielding a team of back-ups who had never played together as an XI, because of Mata and the way he interacted with everyone.
Mata was always on the move, swapping passes with everyone and bringing out qualities in Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek that had never been seen in a United shirt before. It was a brilliant performance, and it’s a sad shame that Mata’s prime years were squandered on the worst Manchester United team in 30 years.
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