Manchester United shrugged off the midweek loss to Tottenham on Saturday as they cruised to a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford.
The hosts dominated the proceedings from the get go as Huddersfield sat back with men behind the ball. But, while Manchester United hogged most of the possession, chances came few and far between, with little space down the middle.
Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard came the closest to scoring in the first half, but the game ended goalless at half-time. The Red Devils picked up the intensity post the break, and it was rewarded with the opener after ten minutes as Romelu Lukaku converted from Juan Mata’s cross.
The result was then rounded off midway through the second half as Alexis Sanchez scored from the rebound after his weak penalty was saved by Jonas Lossl. The result meant that Manchester United consolidated their place on the table, while closing the gap to Manchester City to 13 points. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men.
FT: #MUFC 2 Huddersfield 0.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 3, 2018
David De Gea: 6/10
De Gea had a virtual day off, a welcome prospect after the busy night against Spurs on Wednesday. The Manchester United number one literally had nothing to do on Saturday as Huddersfield failed to create a single attacking move of note.
Antonio Valencia: 7/10
A typically hard working day for the Manchester United skipper, who spent more time in the opposition half than defending. Valencia struck up a brilliant understanding with Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez on the right flank, constantly going on overlapping runs while also covering a lot of ground for the Spaniard.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
A much improved performance than the disaster class at Wembley on Wednesday. Smalling was much more composed at the back and assured with his tackling while also being a threat in set-piece situations. Laurent Depoitre briefly threatened to give him a hard time, but the Englishman remained unfazed.
Marcos Rojo: 7/10
The more adventurous of the two Manchester United centre-backs. This seems like the perfect game for Rojo to return to his best, with Huddersfield rarely posing a problem. With the hosts commanding more of the ball, Rojo instead looked to be a part of the build-up play as he so often did. At his best, he’s a very healthy option for Mourinho.
Luke Shaw: 7/10
The Luke Shaw resurgence resumed once again on Saturday as Mourinho brought the English defender back into the lineup. Like the rest of his partners at the back, the player was more involved on the other end of the pitch, often linking up with Sanchez on the left.
But, his crossing still needs a lot of work, as many of his attempts were easily blocked. Should he be able to do that, Shaw would undoubtedly become the first-choice left-back for Manchester United ahead of Ashley Young.
Scott McTominay: 7/10
Mourinho on McTominay: “I think he’s fantastic. He doesn’t play like a young boy. He’s mature & I think he’s an amazing player. It’s beautiful that a player arrives at 9/10 years old & plays in the first team. I couldn’t be happier with his performance.” #mufc #FullTimeBen pic.twitter.com/03A5rANSTY
— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) February 3, 2018
Handed a rare Premier League start in place of the benched Pogba, McTominay produced another performance that indicated just why Mourinho has put so much faith in his abilities. The youngster pushed forward regularly in the early stages of the, but after being floored by Philip Billing and Terence Kongolo, he became a lot more conservative.
The latter was an incident that should have yielded a penalty for Manchester United. Nevertheless, McTominay was assured, even if understated as he held the midfield line together with Nemanja Matic to deny Huddersfield any real chances.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
Much more improved from Matic on Saturday, as he kept things simple in midfield and protected the back-line effectively. He also circulated the ball much more quickly against the Terriers, looking a lot like the player who was so key in Manchester United’s early season form. Still looks in need of some rest, though.
Juan Mata: 8/10
— Man United Wall Club Rawang (@MUWC_Rawang) February 3, 2018
Manchester United’s best player on the day. Mata looked in his elements on Saturday, lively all through his stint on the pitch as he searched for pockets of space to be the creative head for his side.
The Spaniard’s passing was at its incisive best and it was an inch-perfect cross that finally broke the visitors’ resistance to give his side the lead. In all, Mata made four key passes in the match, which was two more than the entire Huddersfield attack on Saturday.
Jesse Lingard: 6/10
Lingard, as ever, was tireless in his work off the ball, contributing a lot on the defensive end of the game. But, it was his attacking output that left a lot to be desired. He did prove to be dangerous off the ball, creating a lot of space with his movement, though his work on the ball wasn’t the best.
Alexis Sanchez: 7/10
A constant mover on and off the ball, Sanchez was the biggest threat against a stubborn Huddersfield defence. As is usually the case with the Chilean though, he was wasteful in possession, but that was more due to his enterprising nature than anything else.
Alexis Sánchez for Man Utd vs. Huddersfield:
Most tackles won (5)
Most shots (6)
Most dribbles completed (9)
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 3, 2018
He also finally got off the mark in Manchester United colours, although he had to have another go at Jonas Lossl’s goal after the Danish goalkeeper saved his initial penalty. When he gets on the same wavelength with the rest of his teammates, Mourinho & co. will become a deadly proposition.
Romelu Lukaku: 7/10
Another solid outing by Lukaku, who again had to bring himself into the game with his hold-up play, seeing very little of the ball otherwise. His first touch was frustrating at times, but he finally ended his own exasperation by finding the back of the net from the first big chance that came his way. A Lukaku back in form would be brilliant for Manchester United.
Paul Pogba: 6.5/10
Surprisingly left on the bench by Mourinho, Pogba looked like he had a point to prove when he replaced Lingard in the second half. The Frenchman was easily the best Manchester United player for the final quarter of the game, as he linked up smartly in attack while also creating the chances brilliantly around the box.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
On for the final 25 minutes, Rashford was lively in his cameo appearance. He almost created a third goal for the hosts, and would be itching to return to the starting lineup.