Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League as they thrashed Everton 4-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday

Manchester United continued maintaining pace with neighbours Manchester City at the top of the table, with an emphatic 4-0 win over Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday, making them joint leaders in the Premier League alongside their bitter rivals.

The match started with a bang as the hosts’ skipper Antonio Valencia struck a thumping volley past Jordan Pickford in the 4th minute. Beyond the moment the tempo of the match settled down slightly as Manchester United maintained their stranglehold over the proceedings.

The win, though, was sealed in the final ten minutes of the match, much like the first two games, as goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial sealed the deal for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Manchester United are now the joint leaders of the Premier League alongside Manchester City, with an identical record after the first five games. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at some of the major talking points that emerged from the match.

Ugly Yet Effective – Job Well Done

Like a few performances earlier in the season, Manchester United were not exactly spectacular for large parts of the match, but finished it off effectively. But, that is exactly what is starting to become apparent in Jose Mourinho’s side this season – they have the killer instinct to put the matches to bed, more often than not.

For large parts of the match, in fact, the hosts had dropped the tempo of the play even as they continued dominating the proceedings. But, as was shown in the matches against West Ham United and Swansea City, Mourinho has the kind of firepower at his disposal that can turn on the style even in the dying stages of a match.

That is exactly what happened on Sunday, as a thumping striker early on was replaced by sloppy passing and reduced attacking threat. However, a late three-goal assault completed a satisfying win for the Red Devils, as they continued their stellar start to the season.

Mourinho still has some issues to sort out with his squad, and his unit is far from a finished article, but Manchester United are definitely on the right path. For now, the only way is up for the red half of Manchester, just like its blue side, setting up a tasty head-to-head early season battle for the title.

Rooney Returns With A Whimper

Sunday was also the day that saw Wayne Rooney return to the club where he enjoyed 13 illustrious campaigns, winning every major trophy in club competition. Therefore, the veteran Englishman’s first match at Old Trafford following his Everton move was rightly one of the major pre-match talking points.

Deservedly so, Rooney got a warm reception from the Manchester United faithful present at Old Trafford, when he walked out with his new side before the match. Upon being substituted off, he got another lovely reception from the crowd.

But, those were the only two positive moments for the former Manchester United captain for the day. His side got run over with ease by Jose Mourinho’s men. But more frustratingly for Rooney, he cut a lone figure for large parts of the match as Ronald Koeman’s men sat deep defending in their own half.

When he did get on the ball though, the 31-year-old did little to justify his manager’s faith in him to play him as a striker ahead of the younger, sharper Sandro Ramirez. If anything, and unfortunately for Rooney, he provided a reminder as to why he was let go of by Manchester United this past summer. Koeman has some tough decisions to make.

Red Rom Puts His Blue Days Behind Him

While Rooney had endured a tough outing against his former side, on the other side, Romelu Lukaku enjoyed a far better time against the club he spent four highly fruitful years with.

Sunday was hardly one of his better performances in a Manchester United shirt, but the Belgian striker managed to get his moment in the spotlight late into the match to his new side grab the all-important three points, while also showing that he is a multi-dimensional asset for the Red Devils.

Guilty of missing a sitter in the first half, Lukaku later made up for it when he showcased his poaching abilities in the dying stage of the match to make it seven goals in seven at the start of the season. More tellingly, he laid on the pass for Henrikh Mkhitaryan that helped calm the growing nerves at Old Trafford.

The aforementioned assist pointed towards his creative side, and what happened afterwards must have put a smile on the face of every Manchester United fan. Lukaku put a finger on his lips to silence the a section of Everton fans that had been targetting him all through the match to show that he truly belongs in a red shirt of Manchester United.

His actions may have paved the way for a hostile reception at Goodison Park later on in the season, but for Lukaku he has put his days as an Everton player behind him, and has his sole focus on banging in the goals for his new side.

A Can Full Of Worms For Koeman

After a summer full of promise, things seem to be going horribly wrong for Ronald Koeman and Everton. The Toffees were the fourth highest spenders in the Premier League this past summer as the Dutch manager spent lavishly to clinch some big deals.

But, five games into the new season and it seems like Everton have taken a step backwards than a few towards a possible Top 4 charge. Their defence still has a few holes that need plugging, while the attack has looked toothless for the most part thus far.

The issues up front are the major cause for concern for Koeman though. The Everton boss chose to replace Romelu Lukaku with Sandro Ramirez, who is far from a finished product and is not a regular starter, and Wayne Rooney, who lacks mobility and pace to trouble the best of defensive units.

Meanwhile, in recruiting the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaasen, Koeman has also failed to address a major issue in attack – a distinct lack of pace, with their only real quick player – Yannick Bolasie – still on the treatment table, the Everton attack is simply one-dimensional and easy to tackle.

With just ten shots on target all season, the loss of one player, combined with the absence of a certain Ross Barkley is turning out to be far more telling than one could have anticipated. Such losses will not do their confidence any good either, and Koeman needs to find out the solutions to his woes before things get even worse.

Matic Makes Up For Pogba’s Absence… But For How Long?

A major pre-match talking point centred around the prolonged absence of Paul Pogba due to a hamstring injury he sustained earlier in the week in the Champions League. Fans were concerned about how Manchester United would cope in the absence of their talisman for six weeks… or even beyond.

But, his absence was made up on Sunday from one of the unlikeliest of sources. Nemanja Matic, brought in earlier in the summer to act as a defensive shield in midfield to set Pogba free, controlled the game beautifully for large parts of the match, not just breaking up play but also dictating the tempo.

The Serb kept things tight with his strong physical presence at the centre of the park, but also kept things ticking with smart passing of the ball. Stats paint a telling picture as he made the most passes, with the highest accuracy, had the most touches on the ball and covered the most distance in the match as well.

We’re still only a month into the new season, but Matic surely has lived up to his billing so far, and is one of the players who is set to be a vital cog for Mourinho for the remainder of the campaign.

Leave A Comment...

*