David de Gea earned the highest rating among Manchester United players as the Red Devils earned a narrow 1-0 win over West Brom.
The game started with West Brom playing deep into their own half, relying mostly on long balls from the defenders and more often, the goalkeeper, Sam Johnstone. The Baggies seemed to be in no rush and left it to Manchester United to create a tempo of their own.
Manchester United tried and almost got the breakthrough as Harry Maguire darted through the half-way line to find Marcus Rashford, who crossed a delightful pass to Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese caressed it into Anthony Martial’s path but the forward’s effort was saved by Johnstone.
In the end, it was West Brom who came the closest to opening the scoring, with Conor Gallagher hitting the woodwork from the corner. The two teams returned from the break, with Manchester United clearly searching for a way to get past the West Brom defence that went deeper as the game progressed along with managing to beat Johnstone.
However, West Brom almost got the lead as Conor Gallagher was brought down in the box, only for VAR to overturn the decision. David de Gea made crunch saves and Bruno Fernandes converted his penalty on the other end on the second take to hand a nervy 1-0 win to Manchester United. Let us take a look at how the individuals fared.
David de Gea – 8
The sole performer on the night, de Gea saved Manchester United the blushes with two fantastic saves on either side of the half-time whistle. Kept Manchester United in the game and was the one who secured the three points against West Brom. A fine showing from the Spaniard.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 5.5
Wan-Bissaka just does not seem to be as effective going forward and on Saturday, he had problems at the back as well, dealing with the ever-marauding Conor Townsend. A poor showing from the full-back and Ole will have his work cut out to find a suitable rotation option, with Diogo Dalot out on loan.
Victor Lindelof – 6
An average outing from the Iceman, who should have been rested in all fairness. Looked a little rusty with his passing and slugging in his movement. Seemed unable to handle Matheus Pereira and Karlan Grant.
Harry Maguire – 7
A captain’s display from Maguire, who took it upon him to inspire a seemingly disinterested Manchester United attack. Almost played a part in a potential goal by finding Marcus Rashford on the left, but Martial wasn’t clinical enough. Found a couple of good openings in the box through corners, only for his attempt to be either saved by Johnstone or blocked by the defenders.
Alex Telles – 7
The Brazilian always looked to get up ahead on the left, providing Rashford with an extra option and room to cut inside. Telles won 5 headers, the most on the night, and was solid at both ends. A good outing and a bright sign of things to come from the Brazilian.
Nemanja Matic – 5.5
The midfield failed to do its job on Saturday as West Brom caught Manchester United unawares every time. Matheus Pereira’s movement and dribbling was too much for Matic to handle, even though he did put a shift in.
However impressive Matic’s skills are and while he did complete 3 dribbles against West Brom, he does slow down the play a lot and that is unsavoury when playing against an opposition that like to sit deep.
Fred – 5.5
A disappointing outing for Fred, who naturally seems to perform better when paired with another energetic performer like Scott McTominay. It is no surprise that, as Matic slowed down the game, Fred felt cornered at times due to the pressure and his close ball control wasn’t as impeccable on Saturday.
Bruno Fernandes – 6
Yes, Bruno did score the penalty, but it was on his second take. The Portuguese was also lucky to not give away the penalty by bringing down Conor Gallagher early in the second half as VAR overturned the decision in what looked like a clear penalty to many.
Did set Martial up well early on, only for him to hit it too close to the keeper. Was the only one going forward with intent late on, though, as the others seemed disinterested.
Juan Mata – 5.5
Mata’s off-the-ball movement might be the best in the Manchester United squad and he proved that once again on Saturday. However, with age catching up to him, he couldn’t get on the end of a few balls while he was unable to shimmy off the defenders as easily as earlier.
It seemed like he was too easy to read on the ball and was only a threat when off it. Ole needs to find a fix for the right wing, be it Facundo Pellistri or Amad Traore, who is due to join in January.
Anthony Martial – 5
Martial completed 6 dribbles against West Brom, the most by any player on the night. However, dribbles aren’t the only thing. His finishing was lackadaisical and his passing was often sloppy in the first half. In the second, Martial almost looked to be strolling and not in the mood to find a second Manchester United goal.
Too lethargic and inconsistent to be Manchester United’s first-choice and Ole needs to start considering Edinson Cavani as a starter.
Marcus Rashford – 6
Set up Martial well in the build-up in the first half. Did a lot right but wasn’t as effective as he usually is. Tested Johnstone quite well in the second half and set up Martial once again in the second half, only for the Frenchman to take it too wide. Seemed like he got a knock early on and was playing the game through it.
Edinson Cavani – 6
Found all the right places and had three glorious chances to score, only for him to either lose his footing or get blocked. Gave a good account of his abilities and could shoot for a starting spot for the next games.
Donny van de Beek – 5
Did not do a lot after coming on for Mata, but perhaps he can come in for the Spaniard sooner in games, if Solskjaer is to start Mata. van de Beek does the same job to an extent and has more pace in him to be able to exploit the gaps.
Scott McTominay – N/A
Was rightly brought on to add a fresh pair of legs but perhaps, for the wrong person. Ideally, should have come in for Matic and the change saw Manchester United regularly be on the backfoot, with McTominay attempting to relieve pressure without much support.