Manchester United began 2018 on a high as they bounced back to winning ways by comfortably beating Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park on Monday.
The first half was a largely scrappy affair, with chances coming few and far between on either end. Mason Holgate came the closest for the hosts, while Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba saw their efforts go inches away from slotting past Jordan Pickford and into the back of the net.
The game burst into life in the second half, with Juan Mata coming close to scoring twice only to be denied by Pickford and the woodwork. The sustained period of domination finally yielded results though, as Manchester United broke the deadlock just before the hour mark.
Pogba smartly picked out Anthony Martial, who composed himself and slotted the ball into the top right corner from the edge of the box. The goal seemed to have provided a kick up the backside for Everton, who had a brief onslaught on the Manchester United defence without much success.
FT – Everton 0 #MUFC 2.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 1, 2018
The result was finally put to bed with less than ten minutes to go as Jesse Lingard scored a sublime goal from 20 yards out. The result helped Manchester United leapfrog Chelsea into second spot and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men.
David De Gea: 7/10
A virtual night off for De Gea, who had to work his socks off last weekend. Most of the work he did came from his boots instead of his gloves, and a botched clearance was the only blot in an otherwise faultless display for the Spaniard. A first away clean sheet since September is certainly a great way to start 2018.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
Lindelof got another chance to start as the right-back on Monday, with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia unavailable. But, he had a difficult night with Yannick Bolasie’s pace giving him some trouble, although the Swede soon found his feet to absorb most of the pressure. He needs to put in a lot of work going forward though.
Phil Jones: 7/10
Bar a couple of nervy moments in the first half, Jones was solid as ever, blocking shots going towards the goal and being vocal in organising the back-line. He now looks like an indispensable component in defence for Mourinho.
Rojo’s game by numbers vs. Everton:
5 aerial duels won
91% pass accuracy
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 1, 2018
Marcos Rojo: 7/10
Rojo returned to the side for the first time since the disastrous outing against Burnley on Boxing Day, and he looked much improved on the night. The Argentine made a telling impact in the game when he made a last ditch tackle to stop Oumar Niasse from going one-on-one. Seems to be recovering match sharpness.
Luke Shaw: 7/10
Shaw’s resurgence resumed once again on Monday after an underwhelming outing against Southampton as he defended smartly. But, it was in the final third where he made a bigger impact. The Englishman did not have several moments of note, but he did the little things right providing ample support to Pogba and Martial.
— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) January 2, 2018
With Young sidelined for at least one more league game, Shaw could have at least one more opportunity to impress Mourinho further. Small positive steps.
Ander Herrera: 7/10
Back in the lineup, Herrera produced one of his better performances of the season. With Nemanja Matic holding fort behind him, the Spaniard had a spring in his step and took a more proactive responsibility in attack while also putting a shift defensively. Needs to be more composed on the ball.
Nemanja Matic: 6.5/10
Matic is looking increasingly tired with each passing game, having played pretty much every league game over the last few weeks. But, he looked more in control as compared to recent games with an added man in midfield bringing about a sense of assurance. The FA Cup game will perhaps give him the chance to get some well earned rest.
Paul Pogba: 8.5/10
It is now 435 days since Paul Pogba was on the losing side in a Premier League game (23/10/16 v Chelsea)
34 games (W21 D13 L0), while United have lost five games without him in this period #MUFC
— Around The Grounds (@ArndTheGrnds) January 1, 2018
Mourinho changed his system on Monday and as Thierry Henry remarked after the match, it was vintage Paul Pogba on display on the night. After drifting too wide in the early stages, the Frenchman looked more in control as the game progressed, pulling the strings as Manchester United started dominating the proceedings.
He also provided the assists for the goals that Martial and Lingard scored as the visitors eventually coasted to victory. Pogba is now unbeaten in league football for 34 games, and even though the results have not exactly been ideal at times, the stat shows just how influential he is for Manchester United.
Juan Mata: 7/10
The festive period may not have been memorable for Manchester United, but one man seems to have stepped up admirably. Mata was again a major threat with his movement, ability to negotiate through space and pick a pass.
Unlucky to not end the game with a goal as his sumptuous shot hit the woodwork, but he is starting to come into his own again, which should please Mourinho a lot.
Anthony Martial: 8/10
Martial’s game by numbers vs. Everton:
2 chances created
17 final 3rd passes
100% tackles won
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 1, 2018
Starting as the striker after the longest time, Martial looked at ease and in his comfort zone. Apart from an early miss, there was very little to fault his display in the first half, with the Frenchman providing a mobile outlet as the focal point of attack.
A strong performance was capped off with a sublime strike as Martial took advantage of having plenty of space around him to bend the ball past Pickford and into the top corner.
Jesse Lingard: 8/10
What a fine festive period it has been for Lingard. The Manchester United academy graduate was in his elements once again on Monday as he was lively and purposeful in his pressing, moving forward with pace and putting in a shift defensively.
6 – Since the start of December, only Harry Kane (8) has scored more Premier League goals than Jesse Lingard (6). Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/vpyOF56ke8
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 1, 2018
The Englishman too, was rewarded for his perseverance as he added another moment to his ever growing list of sublime strikes, this time from the edge of the box as he curled the ball away from Pickford and into the back of the net.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
On for the final 15 minutes or so, Rashford picked off from where Martial left off, using his pace and trickery to good effect. Likely to start as the striker in the FA Cup tie against Derby County, he now has the chance to stake claim for the role.