After the disappointment of losing in last week’s cup semi final it was at last time to kick off the season with our first Premier League 2 game. United were the hosts versus an experienced Leicester team that included ex reds Matty James, Tom Lawrence and Ritchie De Laet in their team.
Yet again United lined up without a recognised striker in the team and you have to wonder why if players like Borthwick-Jackson are afforded a run out why others such as Wilson, Pereira and Fosu-Mensah are left kicking their heels in the stands.
Surely a game like this would have helped them gain more match experience and help increase fitness as well as highlighting their abilities to potential suitors. You could also argue that senior players who have not had much pre season action such as Schneiderlin, Darmian and Rashford could have been afforded a short cameo as they challenge for a place in the first team eleven.
Perhaps this year Joyce will be afforded a settled team without having to contend with the disruption of loosing players out on loan. This can only benefit the team although the lack of a quality striker may prove to be telling as the season unfolds.
The first half was dominated by a hungry Leicester team who clearly hadn’t travelled just to make up the numbers. We had to wait until Borthwick-Jackson had a tame shot saved in the 34th minute before United registered a shot on target.
Midfielder and Captain James Weir toiled upfront as a makeshift striker as United struggled to create any clear cut opportunities. Weir did manage to get the ball in the net but the goal was denied when the linesmen judged Borthwick-Jackson to be in an offside position.
The impressive Axel Tuanzebe again held the defence together with another assured performance and with Sam Johnston pulling of a number of saves United were lucky to head into half time with a clean sheet.
Things didn’t improve after the break for the young reds and it was nearly on the hour mark before they managed to force their first corner of the game. This was nearly as bad as watching an LVG game!!!
Warren Joyce turned to his bench for inspiration and with twenty minutes left threw on Demi Mitchell for the American Olosunde in the hope of injecting some creativity. Mitchell made an immediate impact when within two minutes of coming on he danced down the left and fizzed in a dangerous cross into the middle.
It was going to take a moment of genius to swing this game United’s way as Leicester continued knocking on the door of United’s goal.
As the game drifted into its final 5 minutes it looked like a draw was on the cards until a long punt downfield from keeper Johnston fell at the feet of substitute Demi Mitchell. Mitchell instantly controlled the ball with his left foot and spotting the opposing keeper of his line expertly lobbed the ball into the empty net.
It was redemption for the young forward who had been the fall guy after last week’s penalty shoot out defeat to Oldham, when his ridiculous penalty attempt/miss had cost United a place in the final.
Yes it wasn’t a pretty game, yes the team needs work but United had won the match in a smash and grab with a long ball goal in the dying minutes. 3 points is 3 points and the team move on to their next game away to Southampton on the 22nd of August. Hopefully before then Joyce will figure out the dilemma as to who fills the striker’s role.
Attack! Attack! Attack! United came out of the blocks, displaying offensive intent as they hosted Leicester, who with a win, would secure the Premier League title.
The Red Devils’ were rewarded in the 8th minute when Anthony Martial was on the receiving end of an Antonio Valencia cross, placing the ball under Leicester ‘keeper Schmichael, giving United a 1-0 lead.
The Reds’ were in the ascendency and had a glorious opportunity to extend their lead in the 14th minute when Jesse Lingard had a shot thudded away by Schmichael, maintaining the pressure and having the United faithful applauding the antics.
To their credit, Leicester fought back and got a goal back when Morgan out-muscled Marcus Rojo and head the ball in to bring the game level. Unfortunately for United, they never recovered and outside of a header by Chris Smalling in the closing moments of the game, Manchester United never looked like scoring the goal they needed.
With Leicester needing a mere two points to win the league pre-game, the Foxes were happy to sit back while counter attack where ever they could. Leicester came for a draw and given United’s struggles to break teams down, it was no surprise they got the result they came for.
But this meant more for United. Considering a top 4 spot was touching distance and Manchester City had lost against Southampton later in the day, fans sat in anticipation of the proverbial kitchen sink to be thrown.
Sir Alex on the touch-line pulls off a defensive midfielder for a striker, tells Rio Ferdinand to push forward and give the opposition nightmares until we got the desired result. That’s Manchester United; that is what that emblem represents – or at least, represented.
Now, with 7 minutes remaining, Blind and Smalling interchange in passes while Herrera and Memphis are given 16 and 8 minutes respectively to make an impact. It is illogical and is the type of complacency that should see Louis Van Gaal lose his job at season’s end.
The Dutchman’s team selections were again maligned. Fellaini has played well in the last few weeks and probably deserved his spot; but he was ineffective; slowed play down and was an elbow graze away from a red card.
You also have to question why Argentinian international Marcus Rojo continues to be picked. The defender was at fault for the goal and struggled against PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez. He packs the composure and pace to be a consistent left back at Manchester United and is terribly out of form. Considering his bright performances and great crossing ability, it is surprising Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has not been afforded an opportunity as of late.
As it stands, Manchester United still have a mathematical chance to make the top 4. Realistically, Manchester United would need Arsenal to beat Manchester City with the hope they will drop points in their last two games. Even so, given Van Gaal’s 50% win rate and the inconsistencies, I sadly cannot see it happening.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.
Man United miss out on going top of the Premier League after managing only a draw away at Leicester City.
For the majority of the first half Leicester moved the ball around quickly and looked the more likely team to score, despite Man United having the bigger share of possession.
The first attempt on goal came from the home team in the 13th minute when a misplaced pass from Michael Carrick fell to Jamie Vardy who laid the ball to Kante. Kante hit a shot but was quickly closed down and the shot deflected out for a corner.
In the 17th minute Wayne Rooney had a chance with a volley near the edge of the box but was unable to connect cleanly, leaving an easy save for Kasper Schmeichel.
Leicester broke the deadlock mid way through the second half and it was Jamie Vardy who put the foxes ahead. Fuchs spotted Vardy making a run and played a perfectly timed, long range through ball into the strikers path. Making no mistake Vardy hit the ball across the face of the goal, beating David de Gea and finding the back of the net. This goal saw Jamie Vardy break Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in ten consecutive Premier League games.
Okazaki almost put Leicester two up just seven minutes later. He played a quick one-two with Mahrez, but saw his shot saved excellently by de Gea.
United had a couple of attempts on goal either side of the Okazaki chance with the first coming from Bastian Schweinsteiger, however the German dragged his long range shot wide. Ten minutes later it was Wayne Rooney who had a go with a header from a United corner, but it didn’t trouble the Leicester keeper.
On the stroke of half time Man United found an equaliser when Bastian Schweinsteiger won a man to man battle with Okazaki to head home from a corner.
Early in the second half it was Man United who had the first try at going ahead. Bastian Schweinsteiger again winning a header, this time from an Ashley Young free kick, but the header lacked direction and was easy for Schmeichel.
Mid way through the second half Leicester had a couple of chances. The first came from a counter attack. Mahrez made easy work of a long run down Leicester’s right wing and picked out Ulloa who hit a shot but David de Gea was out quick and saved with his feet.
Ulloa found himself with another shooting opportunity about seven minutes later but was unable to catch the ball properly, hitting it high and wide.
Man United started to dominate possession more as the game entered the later stages but they were only able to create a few chances. The best of these fell to Mata in the 79th minute. He brought down a cross from Memphis and turned to shoot but the shot cannoned off a defender and went out for a corner.
Five minutes later Memphis also had a good chance but slightly over hit his first touch and the shot that followed was blocked.
Man United had once more chance to snatch the three points in injury time when Darmian picked up a loose ball. Frustratingly, for him and the travelling fans, he couldn’t hit the target.
The draw means Man United drop to third in the Premier League, one point behind Manchester City and Leicester who sit first and second respectively.
What did you think of the game? Are you growing frustrated with the style of play and lack of goals? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
You can also watch the Watford V Man United match reaction on The United Stand’s YouTube channel by clicking here. Or by watching below.