Gameweek 7 drew to a close with Manchester United sitting pretty at the top of the table. Two points clear of neighbours Man City and having scored 9 goals in 4 games, United seemed to have finally gained some stability. They faced a tough trip to the Emirates where they hadn’t lost in their last four League appearances. Injuries and inconsistent performances by Valencia, meant it was Ashley Young who started at right back for Manchester United. Carrick and Schweinsteiger, who are normally each other’s replacements, started together in centre midfield, which meant that the game was over in the first 20 minutes. Arsenal blazed to a 3-0 lead and United looked like they hadn’t gotten off the bus. On another day, the Gunners might have got 5 or 6.
United’s two main problems during Van Gaal’s tenure have been their defensive frailties and the lack of firepower in front of goal. Their lack of pace in attacking areas just adds to the problems. Memphis and Martial were bought as part of the solution, however Memphis has been extremely poor so far. With Walcott starting up front and Sanchez close behind on the left, it was evident Arsenal’s pace was going to cause problems. Bastian Schweinsteiger has slowed down over the years due to various injuries and leaves too many gaps.
With Carrick, Basti and Schneiderlin the three players playing in defensive midfield, Schweinsteiger is the one who takes the initiative to drive forward. However in doing this, he often leaves the defence exposed. It makes it easy for a team with a pacey attack to exploit as Arsenal proved time and time again last weekend. The mid-fielders were outclassed and Mata and Memphis never fell-back to help out the full-backs.
Luke Shaw’s injury has proven to be a problem for United as he had made a terrific start to the season. Not only defending well, he provided a constant attacking threat running down the flanks. Darmian struggled against Sanchez and was eventually replaced by Valencia at half-time. The return of Phil Jones is great news for United as he can slot in alongside Smalling at centre back thus allowing Blind to play left-back.
One of United’s big signings of the summer was Memphis Depay. However, the Dutchman has failed to impress so far. Playing out on the left, he’s lacked creativity, imagination and confidence. Always trying to cut in from the left has made his game predictable and leads him to often lose the ball. The time might have come to drop him to the bench. Ashley Young has done a great of job so far whenever given the chance and it’s unfair to leave him out for the underwhelming Memphis.
Wayne Rooney has been the talisman of this club for many years, but he has been absolutely woeful so far. He’s been poor in front of goal and failed to make a mark so far. In his desire to be on the ball more, he’s often dropping way too deep. He seems to have developed a reluctance to shoot and every time he gets the ball on the edge of the area, he’s looking to pass it instead of having a go. Injury kept him out of England’s EURO qualifiers and it might be a blessing in disguise if he misses the trip to Everton.
Anthony Martial has been a major positive for United so far. He has good skill and is good with the ball at his feet which often leads to him leaving defenders behind. He uses his speed to make good runs behind the defenders often making something happen. There was a question over his physicality however, he has shown he’s strong enough for the English game. His hold up play has been brilliant so far with him receiving the ball many times with his back towards goal.
Assuming Rooney is unfit, this would be my team for the trip to Goodison.
De Gea. Darmian. Smalling. Jones. Blind. Carrick. Schneiderlin. Mata. Herrera. Young. Martial.