The English Premier League has finally kicked off and the first match-up pitted Manchester United going up against Leicester City at Old Trafford.
Many were excited as there were many questions for the Red Devils heading into the new campaign given the fact they failed to sign their main targets – especially on the defensive third of the pitch.
Meanwhile, Leicester City were still trying to replicate the form they had that led them to the Premier League title in the 2015-16 season.
However, it only took two minutes into the game to break the deadlock as Paul Pogba converted a penalty to give the hosts the lead.
It was eventually doubled by Luke Shaw’s strike in the 83rd before Jamie Vardy’s consolation two minutes into stoppage time to give United the first three points of the Premier League season.
Man United take all 3 points on opening night! pic.twitter.com/vXFlvfu1kp
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 10, 2018
Here are a few talking points on the match.
DEFENCE HELD UP WITH A NEED FOR A SPECIAL MENTION
With United constantly being linked to defenders like Harry Maguire and Toby Alderweireld throughout the summer, many were disappointed that Jose Mourinho failed to sign anyone in the summer.
However, looking at this match, one would notice that United’s defence seemed fine as players like Eric Bailly, Matteo Darmian and Shaw held their own to stop Leicester from scoring within regular time.
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 10, 2018
They were composed and were up to the challenge to help out David De Gea on goal.
Victor Lindelöf needs special mention as he was a rock on defence and seemingly brought with him his incredible form during the FIFA World Cup. The Swede was efficient and mobile on defence, constantly challenging Iheanacho for the ball and winning at the best possible time.
Alongside Bailly, Lindelöf may be forming a good partnership as centre-backs that could lift some pressure off finding new players for the defence.
RASHFORD NEEDS TO WIN HIS PLACE ON THE PITCH
Mourinho gave youngster Marcus Rashford the spot as the centre of the attack against Leicester City in hopes for making the difference in the season opener.
Playing with Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata on either wings, few would doubt against Rashford scoring a goal against Leicester.
However, after the game, he failed to register a single shot on goal.
He was able to make a few impressive runs and his pace was very welcome in United’s attack, but Mata’s pace and vision overshadowed Rashford for most of the game and the Englishman failed to establish his presence as the team’s number 10.
Given Mourinho’s lack of patience for players under-performing, Rashford should definitely take the chances given to him and fulfill the potential that he has displayed in his young career.
UNITED’S MIDFIELD TRIO WERE EXCELLENT
In only their first game of the season, it appears that the Red Devils already have their best midfield line-up set.
Mourinho may have already solved his problems in the center of the pitch against Leicester City by fielding Pogba, Fred and Andreas Pereira to orchestrate for the team.
Pogba was always going to be a factor as the World Cup winner was everywhere on the pitch. He was unafraid to attempt crosses that opened the game up for United. His passing also helped in the team winning the penalty, which Pogba confidently converted as well.
The first goalscorer of the Premier League season: Paul Pogba. pic.twitter.com/T1ttltYaO1
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 10, 2018
Fred was also good on the night as he was effective in moving forward and also found himself helping a lot on the defensive third of the pitch. He was quick on his feet and distributed the ball all over the pitch that helped make their attack unpredictable.
Overall, the United midfielders were on top of their game and had everything under control. They knew where to place the ball and when to move forward as a unit to help their attackers and knew when to hold back when a counter-attack was presenting itself for their opponents.
These are only a few things that worked for United against Leicester City. If they have these types of performances throughout the season, they are going to be a tough team to beat.