Manchester United 1 – 0 Southampton


First home game. Mourinho is yet to know a loss. Pogba was back and starting. Henrikh still didn’t find a place in the starting XI. But there was this sense of anticipation. Proven manager, electrifying characters on the pitch. In came a team that managed to beat United twice in the last three trips here. They claimed they are in for a good game.

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And it indeed was a good game. It just happened that United were much more clinical. Direct forward play. With Zlatan in the box, wingers no longer play intricate small passes to build in the final third. The 4-4-1-1 switching to 4-4-2 during a rampant attack, back to a 4-5-1 when defending. The top three – Zlatan, Wayne and Anthony swapping positions in the front line; the bustling pace of Valencia and Shaw on the wings; the solidity of defence by Marouane in the center protecting a well marshalled partnership of Bailly and Blind.

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Pogba’s first touch resulted in a swift counter attack that almost lead to a goal in the first minute for the Saints. But as the game grew on, his nerves settled and he started enjoying, gliding across the pitch and beyond players. Strong, fending off position, brilliant ball control and a number of times the ref offered an advantage as he was fouled. He was solid in partnership with Marouane, but at the same time making leaping forays box to box.

 

Tough to keep the limelight away from Zlatan. A seemingly innocuous cross from Wayne, with no pressure on him as he crossed. Fonte was ready to clear it off, but in a split second, Zlatan towered over him, hindering Fonte’s leap. He generated pace, purely from his neck muscles as the ball flashed across the flailing hands of Fraiser F. #DaretoZlatan.

 

Welcome to the theatre of dreams. #GGMU. The fortress is back.

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Community Shield 2016-17 Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City


I was looking forward to a football match after the Euros. Watching the ‘International Cup’ , ‘Champions Cup’ and all that nonsense was just a waste of time with players just getting game time and managers and players (new and old) learning the trade and exchanging ideas.

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Zlatan with Rooney behind looked good on paper. But it was the back 7 that was shining in the first 30 odd minutes. Rooney was awful on the ball, while Ibra was not getting enough balls to feet. Valencia was definitely the performer at full back with probing darts forward as well as solid defence. The darting Lingard run which seemed to take Leicester by surprise considering the monotony that was ongoing prior to it. The subtle change of pace, accompanied by composure from the young lad meant he etched his name into history books having scored in consecutive FA cup winning and community shield winning sides.

Shaw was happy to be bit more conservative moving forward. Martial hardly ever got into the game and the link up between those two haven’t been great. Shaw did get caught out twice and fortunately got away with it.

The lack of pace will be a big factor when the season begins. With the squad available to him, now that Pogba is confirmed, Henrikh will be a strong creative force. Mata being subbed in and then out is probably an indication to him of how little play time he is going to get under Jose. The presence of one left footer in the midfield is more than enough. The dynamism of Henrikh will be always preferred over Mata. Mata deserves full play time and needs to move to another club for his own career.

Zlatan was quiet for most of the game primarily due to lack of service. His defending of corners were awful to begin with, but he settled in well towards the latter half of the game.

And of course he did get the most important touch in the end, as he rose early to a well crafted Valencia cross to outmuscle Morgan in central defence.

Can’t wait for one more week to see the battle begin. Bring it on premier league