Tag Archives: Mata

Man United win thrilling EFL Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th minute winner as Manchester United overcame a spirited Southampton side at Wembley in an entertaining EFL Cup final.

United took the lead through a powerful Ibrahimovic free-kick which flew past the diving Fraser Forster.

Jesse Lingard added a second with a composed finish from 12 yards as United looked to cruise to a comfortable victory.

But Southampton roared back in added time of the first half as Gabbiadini pulled one back with a cheeky finish through the legs of De Gea from point blank range.

Southampton started the second half on the front foot and got the equaliser through a fantastic on the turn finish by Gabbiadini again.

United were on the back foot as Southampton looked the most likely to snatch victory. Romeu came closest for the Saints as his header cannoned off the post.

But it was Zlatan who stole the show at Wembley as he powered in a header to seal the victory for United. Ander Herrera delivered an enticing cross and Zlatan converted the chance expertly beyond Forster to break Southampton hearts.

Wayne Rooney lifts the EFL Cup for Manchester United (Picture: guardian.com)
Wayne Rooney lifts the EFL Cup for Manchester United (Picture: guardian.com)

Southampton will feel angry after Gabbiadini had a goal ruled out wrongly for offside when the game was scoreless.

The win secures Jose Mourinho’s first major trophy in his first season as manager of United, a record which no other United manager has achieved.

This silverware is proof of the apparent improvement under Mourinho who has instilled the will to win into the squad, who also have the ability to grind out victories.

The absence of Mkhitaryan meant the fluidity in attack was removed, with Juan Mata being ineffective in the first half. Mourinho hauled off the Spaniard at half-time and introduced Michael Carrick for his calming presence in midfield.

Southampton created all sorts of problems for United, and can feel proud of how hard they fought against a very strong United side, but ultimately the difference in class showed as Zlatan powered in the winner.

Match winner Ibrahimovic said, “This is a team effort. This is what I came for – to win and I am winning. The more I win the more satisfied I get.”

United boss Jose Mourinho commented, “I’m a bit emotional yes. It’s not easy to win titles and so many times. Winning is always special. The day I don’t get emotional when I win is the day to go home.”

This victory will give the players a massive confidence boost to push on in our charge for a top 4 finish. I seriously think that we will finish second in the league, and of course we’re still well in contention in the FA Cup and Europa League.

How do you think this Cup final victory will impact our league form? Is a second place finish in the league too far fetched?

Leave your thoughts below!

Juan Mata shows his class once again off the field

Juan Mata is known to be one of the nice guys of football. His weekly blogs ooze class, his willingness to engage with the fans is selfless and now he has done it again making the day of a young boy with cerebral palsy.

The young boy, Alex Nield, had previously met the Spaniard after a game last season and whilst him and his father were at Old Trafford on Saturday evening, they heard from a friend that the players were boarding their coach shortly.

They made their way toward the coach area and, after greeting some fans, Mata remembered Alex and ran over to greet him. The 28-year old midfielder was filmed hugging both Alex and his father and engaging in conversation with them. Alex’s father, Jon Nield, spoke to the media as to what was said between them and the United man.

‘Juan had immediately clocked Alex so after he’d gone through the line of people he shot over. A friend of ours, Leon (Labko), captured it all and put it on Facebook and it’s just gone absolutely crazy. He even tried to sort him out a ticket because we didn’t have one for Sunday’s game and we managed to get in to watch the second half – he contacted the club, Juan Mata – so I take my hat off to him.’ Mata’s act of kindness has been doing the rounds in the media and rightly so as not enough of this happens in the game.

Although many believed that the Spaniard would be sold after the appointment of Jose Mourinho at the club, he has been a constant figure in the starting eleven this season bagging two goals and one assist and putting on a string of solid displays.

Despite the draw against Stoke on Sunday, many fans were of the opinion that he was the man of the match against Mark Hughes side. In Mata’s latest blog, he has vented his frustration at not getting the win but insists if the team keep creating chances and keep their confidence up, the results will come. Bravo Juan.

Mata more suited to United than Chelsea says Mourinho

United manager Jose Mourinho believes that Juan Mata is far better suited to his United set up than he was with his set up at Chelsea.

Mourinho allowed an unhappy Mata to leave Chelsea and join United back in January 2014 for a club-record £37.1m; despite the Spandiard being voted player of the year for the previous season.

Mata hasn’t been a regular starter this season under Mourinho but he was afforded a chance to show his worth when Wayne Rooney was dropped for the game against Leicester.

Mata slipped into Rooney’s number 10 position and impressed with a tidy, well taken goal and an assist.

Mourinho claims he did not want to sell Mata when he was at Chelsea but insists the attacking midfielder fits in well with the style of football he is implementing at United.

“First of all, I didn’t sell him.

“My job is not to buy and sell. My job is to coach, to work on the pitch and to advise my board about the transfer policy.

“Secondly, it was Juan that asked to leave and when a player asks to leave, I think always you have to think twice.

“And the third point is that my idea for football with the squad and objectives we had at Chelsea is one thing, and the squad I have at Man United and the profile and what I try to do with this club is a completely different situation.

“So Juan at Chelsea in my project was one player, and Juan in my project at Man United is another thing.”

Juan Mata will be very pleased with his performance against Leicester and will be confident of retaining his place in the side in the coming weeks; keeping Rooney on the bench.

Juan Mata, Should he stay or should he go?

The arrival of Jose Mourinho to Manchester United has brought a smile back onto the faces of the United faithful, the type of smile we have never really been able to muster up since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. However there is one individual at the club who may not be smiling so much, and that individual is of course Juan Mata.

Having played under Mourinho back at Chelsea, The Spaniard fell out of favour with the Portuguese who was said to be unimpressed with the attackers work rate and instead opted for Oscar.

More is expected of Juan Mata

Since joining United back in January 2014, Mata has divided opinion amongst the supporters. Yes he had his moments, most notably back in March 2015 against Liverpool, at Anfield, netting 2 decisive goals. But more often than not he has failed to deliver the goods for the club on a consistent basis. By no means has Mata been a flop, we just expected so much more.

Mata looks dissatisfied after being subbed by Mourinho at Chelsea (Picture: metro.co.uk)
Mata looks dissatisfied after being subbed by Mourinho at Chelsea (Picture: metro.co.uk)

Former head coach Louis Van Gaal’s somewhat defensive tactics and opting to play the Spaniard in an unfamiliar position on the wings admittedly haven’t helped matters. Mata isn’t and never was a natural winger, his much preferred position on the field was in the 10 behind the striker and we have never really seen Mata given a proper run of games in that position.

Mata deserves first team football

So should Juan Mata remain at Manchester United this season? Hand on heart, No he shouldn’t. You can’t help feel that Mourinho’s previous relationship with Mata ­­will and already be an issue between the pair. Ask yourself this: would Juan Mata get into Jose Mourinho’s starting eleven? The answer would be unfortunately no.

For a player like Mata not to be playing week in week out is a crying shame, not only for us but for football in general. He can create pieces of magic on the football pitch in an instant, show beautiful flair on the ball and create poetry-like passing. He is a footballer that needs first team football, not a seat on the substitutes’ bench.

Give us your thoughts in the comment section below.

Barcelona to tempt Manchester United’s Juan Mata away this summer

With the announcement that Jose Mourinho is Manchester United’s new manager, Mata’s future at the club is in question.

In Jose Mourinho’s time at Stamford Bridge, he decided to allow Juan Mata to go to Old Trafford at ease which sparks the question whether he’ll let go of the Spaniard as easily this time round.

Barcelona, the La Liga giants, have been heavily linked with Mata for some time now and as he’ll now be under Mourinho’s United, that might tempt the 28-year-old to make the move.

Mundo Deportivo have reported that Barcelona are looking to strengthen their squad this season to try and gain European victory in the Champions League next season.

The Nou Camp already boasts impressive talent under the likes of world class stars Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Juan Mata has impressive stats himself which have impressed Barcelona such as his 89% pass accuracy and his FA Cup final goal really put him into their high priority of summer transfer targets.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t included in the Euro 2016 squad for Spain so is desperate to get back to winning ways which the move to Spain could offer him.

Mata looks dissatisfied after being subbed by Mourinho at Chelsea (Picture: metro.co.uk)
Mata looks dissatisfied after being subbed by Mourinho at Chelsea (Picture: metro.co.uk)
History may repeat itself again as Sportsmail has reported that his advisors are set to discuss Mata’s future at United with Mourinho to make sure he still has an active role – this is the same action that took place two years ago before Mata was sold to Manchester United.

The £37.1 million transfer from Chelsea is desperate to stay at the club and has shown this with his passionate display at Wembley in the FA Cup final.

Mata is currently in Catalonia, fuelling the rumours that he is considering the move back to Spain.

As Mata is back under Mourinho’s wing, could history repeat itself? Will he make the move to the Spanish giants? Do you want him to stay at the club?
Comment below and let us know!

To read the full article on the Daily Mail, please click here.

West Brom 1-0 Man United | Match review

United are brought swiftly back down to earth after defeat at the hands of West Brom.

The Red Devils traveled to West Brom on the back of four consecutive wins hoping to make it five. But a 66th minute goal from Rondon brought the run to a premature end and at the same time dented United’s hopes of finishing in the top four.

United started the game brightly, keeping hold of the ball and moving it forward. But West Brom were quick to close United down, often with two players to United’s one, which made it difficult for United to create any clear-cut chances. The visitors also weren’t helped by being reduced to ten men after Juan Mata saw red in the 26th minute following a careless challenge on former United player, Darren Fletcher. Mata had also been booked earlier in the game for blocking a quick free kick.

Despite going down to ten men so early, United still managed to have a fair share of possession and did well to hold West Brom off with Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind making several tackles and interceptions.

The second half began much in the same way with United still holding a decent share of possession and getting the ball forward. But this changed on the hour mark when, for a reason known only to Louis van Gaal, a defensive substitution was made with Ander Herrera being taken off for Morgan Schneiderlin. United now sat back and allowed West Brom to come at them and it only took a few minutes for West Brom to take advantage of the gifted time and space when Rondon, unmarked, controlled a cross in the box and hit the ball into the bottom corner.

Mata is shown the red card after a careless challenge on Fletcher (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Mata is shown the red card after a careless challenge on Fletcher (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Louis van Gaal tried to fight back by bringing on Memphis with 30 minutes left. But with no Ander Herrera or attacking central midfielder on the pitch, his chances to provide anything were slim. In fact, attacking options in general were limited. The game continued and finished with West Brom dominating possession and playing most of their football in the United half.

I knew, as soon as the Schneiderlin-Herrera change was made, that we would end up sitting back and inviting pressure. We have done it several times this season and almost every time we concede. And we did. Literally five minutes after the substitution.

With West Brom defending in numbers – when they had to defend! – and United having little going forward I knew the chances of us scoring were slim and that the game was as good as lost.

Louis van Gaal should not have taken Herrera off. He may not have produced anything special but he was always in amongst it and would have provided an option in the middle going forward. Then with the introduction of Memphis and that extra body in the middle, maybe we would have got something.

Rondon is allowed time and space to control and shoot putting West Brom in the lead (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Rondon is allowed time and space to control and shoot putting West Brom in the lead (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Apart from the goal conceded, our defence was solid today with Blind, Smalling and Darmian making several important tackles and interceptions between them. But, no one else in a red shirt particularly stood out. Now you can credit that to West Brom for their persistent defending or you can put it down to poor team selection and substitutions from the manager. For me it’s a bit of both.

West Brom were very well disciplined but Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis should not have been dropped from the starting line-up. Morgan has been fantastic defensively in recent games and Memphis was finding some confidence and momentum. In a game where you have to win to stay in the race for top four, you just don’t tamper with a winning formula. And making a defensive change on the hour mark when it’s 0-0 and you are away, is suicidal.

Well that’s all I have to say about this game. What did you make of it? Do you agree with Memphis and Morgan being dropped? Do you think a defensive change was the right decision? Let us know in the comment section below.

Paul’s player ratings – West Brom V Man United

David de Gea (6) Had little to do and can’t be blamed for the goal.
Matteo Darmian (7) Made some good and important tackles but needs to improve going forward.
Chris Smalling (8) Did a great job keeping Rondon quiet and made a series of tackles and interceptions as well as winning the majority of his aerial duels.
Daley Blind (6) Made some good interceptions but let himself down by being out of position, allowing Rondon time and space to score.
Marcos Rojo (6) Rarely called upon defensively. Provided support going forward but was not able to complete a successful cross.
Ander Herrera (6) Put in a shift but didn’t do anything noteworthy.
Michael Carrick (5) Struggled defensively and his passing was off.
Jesse Lingard (6) Made a few good runs but no end product.
Juan Mata (5) Some carelessness early in the game saw him get shown the red card.
Anthony Martial (6) Struggled to make an impact.
Marcus Rashford (6) Had very little service but did make one or two good runs when briefly on the wing.

If you still want more analysis then please watch The United Stand’s match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Man United 1-0 Watford | Match review

A Mata free kick seals the three points in a tough game against an energetic, battling Watford.

On the back of three wins in a row, with three goals scored in each game, fans were bullish about seeing more of the same against Watford. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as the visitor’s pressed very well for the whole 90 minutes making it very difficult for United to play with any real freedom.

United started well by attacking and getting shots in at goal and winning corners, but it didn’t take long for Watford to group and start putting pressure on United and forcing them into errors. There were periods where United appeared to be reverting back to the style of football we had become used to under van Gaal, with little in the way of forward football. The half time whistle even brought groans around the stadium.

Although the first half was rather uneventful, both teams did come close to scoring. For United, in the 20th minute, Morgan Schneiderlin hit a volley from just outside the box which shaved the outside of left hand post and Watford, in the 37th minute, had a better chance when Ighalo found himself one-on-one with de Gea but the United keeper made himself big and blocked Ighalo’s shot.

Fosu-Mensah makes a strong challenge on Troy Deeney (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Fosu-Mensah makes a strong challenge on Troy Deeney (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

The second half was more of the same only with a few good spells of attacking football from United. But again, Watford afforded United very little space, stopping them from creating too many chances. But all United needed was a free kick and Juan Mata! In the 82nd minute, Anthony Martial was brought down just outside the box winning a free kick. Up stepped Mata who with great accuracy, curled the ball up and over the wall and into the top left corner. Gomes had no chance in the Watford goal.

Although the game didn’t live up to expectations raised from recent matches, United managed to get the three points and at this stage of the season, considering the current state of the league table, the points are all that matter. With City losing against Liverpool, United are now level on points with their city rivals and suddenly, top 4 look possible again.

Mata's superb free kick secured the three points (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Mata’s superb free kick secured the three points (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

There were a couple of stand out players in this match and both were from the youth academy. Timothy Fosu-Mensah played the full 90 minutes at centre-back, in the absence of injured Chris Smalling. Despite an early booking and a couple of rash tackles, Fosu-Mensah made several important and perfectly timed challenges, making a big contribution to United’s clean sheet. His strength and awareness just prove that he is a bright prospect for United’s future.

The other stand out player was, once again, Marcus Rashford. He may not have got himself on the score sheet today but his blistering pace caused Watford many problems, in particular when he was shifted to the right with Martial moving more central. Rashford’s pace and eye for goal certainly make him a favourite to be successful at Old Trafford for years to come.

Rashford forces save from Gomes after beating Watford's defenders (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Rashford forces save from Gomes after beating Watford’s defenders (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Up next for United is a trip to West Brom where another three points will further increase their chances of finishing in the top four. So what did you make of today’s game? Are you disappointed with the performance or just glad for the three points? Let us know in the comments below.

Paul’s player ratings – Man United V Watford

David de Gea (7) Made a couple of important saves when in one-on-one situations.
Guillermo Varela (6) Did enough defensively to help keep a clean sheet.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (8) Made a series of strong and important tackles preventing goal scoring opportunities.
Daley Blind (5) A very rare off-day for Blind. Didn’t look comfortable with the ball and distribution was poor.
Marcos Rojo (6) Did enough defensively to help keep a clean sheet.
Morgan Schneiderlin (7) Picking up where he left off against Arsenal by providing support to the defence through tackles and interceptions.
Ander Herrera (6) Put in a good shift but didn’t produce anything special.
Anthony Martial (6) Was quiet for most of the game and didn’t really cause Watford any problems. Won the free kick that Mata converted.
Juan Mata (7) Held the ball well while looking for a pass. Scored a fantastic free kick to secure all three points.
Memphis Depay (6) While not a poor performance he was unable to reproduce the brilliance of the previous few games.
Marcus Rashford (8) Didn’t manage to get on the score sheet this time but his pace caused Watford a lot of problems and his defensive contribution shouldn’t go unnoticed.

If you would like to watch the United Stand’s match reaction video with Mark Goldbridge, please do so by clicking here or watching below:

Man United 5-1 Midtjylland | Match review

After going a goal down against the run of play early on, United rallied together to brush Midtjylland aside with 5 goals of their own.

Very few people would have predicted this scoreline, particularly with the long list of injuries the team has and with Anthony Martial being added to the list just before kickoff with a hamstring problem. But the team pulled together knowing that a loss at home to Midtjylland would be unacceptable.

It was the visitors who found the back of the net first, in the 28th minute. Against the run of play, Sisto found himself with a bit of space on the edge of the box and easily skipped past Carrick and Blind then slotted the ball past Romero into the bottom left corner. United were now 3-1 down on aggregate and pressure was increasing. But, they reacted very well by dominating possession, getting forward and moving the ball around quickly, as they were before the Midtjylland opener.

It only took a few minutes for United to find an equaliser. On the 32nd minute Memphis ran the ball past the Midtjylland defence to the byline and hit a driven cross along the ground which was met by the boot of Bodurov who directed the ball into his own net. Just before half time, Mata had a chance to put United ahead and level on aggregate from the spot after Herrera was brought down just inside the area but Mata’s penalty was saved by Andersen.

Sisto celebrates scoring Midtjylland's opener (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Sisto celebrates scoring Midtjylland’s opener (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

United did take the lead in the 63rd minute thanks to a goal from youngster Marcus Rashford. The move started with Herrera who floated a cross over to the back post. Mata got on the end of it with a first time cross back across goal. Using his pace, Rashford beat the Midtjylland defenders to the ball and buried the ball into the back of the net. United were now 2-1 up and 3-3 on aggregate.

The game was being played almost entirely in the Midtylland half with United controlling the play and creating lots of chances. On the 75th minute young boy Marcus Rashford got himself on the score sheet again. This time it was Guillermo Varela with the assist. Following some quick, yet patient build up play, Varela hit a cross from the right hand side which dropped to the back post. Rashford found himself in a yard of space and allowed the ball to drop and then slotted the ball under the keeper, putting United 3-1 up and 4-3 ahead on aggregate.

United weren’t ready to stop just yet and on the 88th minute, United were awarded another penalty after a Memphis shot was handled by a Midtjylland defender. This time it was Ander Herrera who stepped up and he made no mistake by rifling the ball into the top left corner. United were now 4-1 up in the game and had a two goal lead on aggregate. It was the breathing space they had been hoping for and I’m sure Louis van Gaal would have zipped up his note pad at this point.

As the fourth official announced the amount of additional time there would be, there was a sense that the game was already finished. United were as good as through and Midtjylland didn’t look like they had the legs to score two goals in as many minutes. But, Memphis wasn’t done yet and he capped off a great performance with a equally great solo goal in the 91st minute. The former PSV player ran at the Midtjylland defence forcing them backwards and when he created a gap he arrowed the ball into the bottom left corner. And that was it. United won 5-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate to progress to the next round.

Memphis celebrates his late goal with Herrera (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Memphis celebrates his late goal with Herrera (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

There were a few stand out players in this match and one of those was the young Marcus Rashford. He continuously proved a nuisance for the defenders with his ability to leave them standing with his quick change of pace. His positioning an ability to read the game were also proven with the two goals he scored. No better way to cap off a fine performance than scoring a couple of goals to help secure a place in the next round of the Europa League.

Juan Mata also deserves a mention. Throughout the whole game he put in 110% popping up in all areas of the pitch, linking the play between defenders and attackers, dictating play, winning back possession and getting an assist for Rashford’s first goal.

And we cannot leave out Memphis. He was poor in the first leg and against Shrewsbury Town on Monday he showed signs of improvement and a growing confidence. I said in the Shrewsbury review that he now has a great opportunity to prove himself over the coming weeks with several players out injured and he took his chance very well tonight. He had a very high success rate with take-ons, beating the defenders and getting plenty of shots in. But he wasn’t greedy by just taking shots, he also looked up to see what was going on around him and played a few key passes into the path of runners. We even saw flashes of skill from him which just indicates that his confidence is slowly returning and the goal he scored in injury time was the icing on the cake.

All in all it was a good performance from United. The team played well as a unit and as fans we can be proud of them. They are all under a lot of pressure and together with all the injuries, they need our support.

United’s next game is against Arsenal, on Sunday, at Old Trafford. This will be a real test for Memphis and United as Shrewsbury Town and Midtjylland can’t really be considered as tough opponents, but both games have done the team and Memphis some good in terms of morale and confidence. Hopefully both will carry into the game against Arsenal and we can get a result.

Paul’s Player Ratings – United V Midtjylland:

Romero (6) Was a little flaky with the ball at his feet but was rarely called upon.
Varela (7) Was good getting forward, linking up with Herrera and Lingard and provided an assist for Rashford’s second goal.
Carrick (6) Could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Blind (6) Also could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Riley (6) Was good going forward, linking up with Memphis.
Schneiderlin (7) A stalwart in the midfield with plenty of interceptions and winning tackles.
Herrera (7) Put in a good shift and scored a penalty.
Lingard (6) Was good going forward but lacked a killer end product often choosing to come backwards.
Mata (8) Dictated play, very high work rate, pressed well winning possession and provided the assist for Rashford’s first goal.
Memphis (9) Used his strength, pace and skill to beat defenders throughout the game, created chances for others and scored a great solo goal.
Rashford (9) Also showed great pace and strength when in possession and scored two strikers goals.

So what did you think of tonight’s game? Are there any players that you thought stood out? Would you rate any of the players differently? Let me know in the comments below.

You can watch the United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Shrewsbury Town 0-3 Man United | Match Review

United cruise comfortably past Shrewsbury Town with a 3-0 victory to set up a quarter final tie, at home, against West Ham United.

This was the first time in the clubs history that United have played Shrewsbury Town and the home team, including their fans, were excited for the occasion. They even fancied their chances of causing an upset based on United’s recent form and who can blame them? But it wasn’t to be thanks to goals from Chris Smalling (right footed volley), Juan Mata (cleverley worked free kick where three United players looked to have been offside) and Jesse Lingard (getting on the end of an Ander Herrera cross).

The win itself is of course something to be happy about as it sends United into the quarter final of the FA Cup, but it’s nothing to write home about considering the opposition. Typically, of a United under van Gaal, they controlled the game from start to finish having an 80% share of the possession in the first half and 75% possession overall. Also, United were reduced to long shots for most of the first half as they failed to find a way to break down a resilient Shrewsbury defence. Something else we have become accustomed to during the van Gaal reign. United did, however, finally make a break through late in the first half when Chris Smalling, staying up front when a cleared corner was played back toward the box, hit a right footed volley past the Shrewsbury keeper. Shortly afterwards, on the stroke of half time, Juan Mata doubled United’s lead from a free Kick that was awarded after Anthony Martial was brought down on the edge of the box when he was through on goal.

Mata scores United's second from a Free Kick (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Mata scores United’s second from a Free Kick (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

For the second half Shrewsbury altered their approach and played further up the pitch. This allowed United to play their game, bringing the attacking players into the fold with some much quicker football. And it didn’t take long for United to get their third goal to seal the win. The goal came from a counter attack that started with Romero. The United keeper released the ball quickly, picking out Herrera who touched the ball on to Mata on the left. At the edge of the box, Mata played the ball back into Herrera who hit a cross to the back post finding Lingard who hit it first time into the back of the net. United then took their foot off the pedal and played possession football very effectively to see the game out.

Despite the 3-0 scoreline it was a very average team performance. I’m finding it difficult to pick out any player who had a particularly impressive game. In my match review for the Midtjylland game on Thursday, I was very critical of Memphis. Today, however, despite a shaky start, he grew into the game and gained confidence; particularly in the second half. He showed glimpses of what he did at PSV by running at defenders, cutting in and getting shots at goal. An extra yard of pace and he will become dangerous again. He also linked up with players very well during attacking moves with some neat one-touch passing. What’s important now is that he carries that into the next game. He has a great opportunity, with Rooney out, to prove himself and build on today’s performance.

Daley Blind in action for United at Shrewsbury (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Daley Blind in action for United at Shrewsbury (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Another player I enjoyed watching was Daley Blind. He makes things happen. Plenty of times tonight he was able to pick out a pass from deep, finding the forward players and at the same time taking several Shrewsbury players out of the game.

Andreas Pereira also made a positive impact coming on as a substitute just after the hour mark. His positioning was on point, making sure he found space off the ball to receive a pass. When he was in possession he moved the ball quickly. He proves a nightmare for defenders with his pass-and-move football which is something United need more of.

So, United did what was expected of them and have progressed to the quarter final of the FA Cup. But the pressure is still on Louis van Gaal with the focus now on the second leg of the Europa League tie at home to Midtylland. The danish team bring to Old Trafford a 2-1 advantage, but United could progress with 1-0 victory having scored an away goal in the first leg. As with tonight’s game, United will be fully expected to win this 2nd leg with the real test being the game against Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday.

What did you make of tonight’s game? Did any players stand out to you? Was the performance good enough? Let me know in the comments below!

Paul’s player ratings – Shrewsbury V United

Romero (6) Kept a clean sheet but was rarely called upon.
Borthwick-Jackson (6) Played the long ball that led to Chris Smalling’s goal but was generally quiet.
Smalling (7) Scored the opening goal and won the majority of aerial battles.
Blind (7) Showed great vision picking out long ground passes into the forward players.
Varela (6) Fairly quiet for most of the game.
Herrera (7) Helped to control the united midfield and provided an assist for Lingard’s goal.
Schneiderlin (6) Helped protect the defense on the rare occasion he needed to.
Lingard (6) Was quiet for most of the game despite scoring.
Mata (7) Scored the free kick and played his part in the build up to Lingard’s goal.
Memphis (6) Poor start to game but grew in confidence in the 2nd half linking up well with other players.
Martial (6) Was isolated as a lone striker with several defenders around him.

Riley (6) Made his debut as a sub an wasn’t afraid to run at defenders.
Keane (6) Came on for Martial, hit the post, then left the field after just 4 minutes after picking up a groin injury.
Pereira (7) Proved a nuisance for the Shrewsbury defenders with his quick movement.

You can also watch The United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Derby County 1-3 Man United | Match review

United see off Derby County in the FA Cup 4th round with a 3-1 victory.

In a much improved performance, United played some decent football, attacked and scored three goals, including a first half goal!

Captain Wayne Rooney opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a curled shot from outside the box. It came from a good move that came from Daley Blind playing a long ground pass into Martial, who knocked the ball into Rooney. Rooney looked up and from outside the box curled a shot across and around the keeper leaving him with no chance. It was a great finish that he will be happy with.

20 minutes later Derby found an equaliser with a goal from Thorne. Thorne exposed a gap left by Smalling and he controlled a ball over the top perfectly setting himself to tap it past David de Gea.

United regained the lead in the second half thanks to a goal from Daley Blind. Lingard had possession out on the right and played in a pacey cross across the ground and Blind was quickest to it arrowing the ball into the bottom right.

By this point Derby were looking tired and United took advantage of this when Martial made easy work of beating the Derby right back and pulling the ball back into the path of Mata who slotted the ball across the keeper and into the back of the net sealing the win for United.

Derby can take some pride from their performance as they did have a go at United for the majority of the game and created a few chances of their own.

The win sends United into the 5th round of the FA Cup. A tournament they haven’t won in 12 years. Could this be their year?

Watch the United Stands live match reaction below or by clicking here: