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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!

Premier League 2 Review: United 3-2 Derby

Man United V Derby County 19/09/16

Goals
United: McTominay 17, 85 Harrop 67 (pen)
Derby: Vernam 35, 74

After a short hiatus where I’ve been held kidnapped in a basement by a Mexican man named Guillermo I am back with my coverage of Manchester United’s Reserve team.

During my absence United have ground out a 1-1 draw against local rivals Man City thanks to a goal by Matty Willock and beaten the reigning European champions Villarreal 1-0 in the Premier League International Cup. It’s good to see that whilst Guillermo fed me on a diet of stale bread and rain water the youngsters have started putting together some impressive performances. Harrop, Poole, Tuanzebe and McTominay have all started to show promise and are benefiting from regular games. Harrop in particular growing in statue with an assured performance against European opposition.

Last season’s Premier League 2 winners Derby, who have so far failed to register a single point this season provided the opposition under the lights of Old Trafford. The rare chance to play on the hallowed turf of Old Trafford often lifts the performance of young players and United were quickly in an attacking mood with Riley flashing a shot at the Derby goal in the 6th minute.

With Riley proving to be an attacking threat as he powered down the left wing and Harrop orchestrating and dictating, it didn’t take long for United to open their account for the night. The opener came in the 17th minute when some good play by Harrop resulted in a teasing cross being headed home with aplomb by Scott McTominay. McTominay is proving to be Mr Versatile having played in a defensive midfielder role but at 6ft 4 the lad offers us a real presence up front.

As the first half progressed it was all United and Derby rarely threatened although it was clear that their striker Vernam would be a threat in the air.

McTominay was unlucky not to double the lead in the 30th minute when he saw his sliding effort clip the outside of Derby’s post and go wide. Just 60 seconds later McTominay again was unfortunate when he failed to capitalise on a Hamilton pass, this time firing hire over the bar when he really should have done better. United were dominant!!!

Derby equalised against the run of play in the 35th minute Vernam nodded a header that just crossed the line before Redmond could clear. United disputed the decision but replays show the ball was well over the line. 1-1 at half time in a game United had dominated with possession and chances.

As the second half began slowly United found it increasingly hard to create opportunities and Derby could have stolen the lead when Vernam headed narrowly wide. Warren Joyce shuffled his tactics in the 58th minute when he introduced the tricky American Olosunde who replaced a tired looking Redmond.

A fit again Ro-Shaun Williams slotted into the defence alongside Tuanzebe when he replaced Scott in the 64th minute with Regan Poole moving to left back and Riley pushed forward. The changes freshened up the team and injected some much needed pace into the United team.

It soon paid dividends when sub Matthew Olosunde was clumsily tripped inside the Derby box in the 67th minute and up stepped an assured Harrop to drill home a well taken penalty (Demi Mitchell take note!!) 2-1

You have to credit the response from the Rams as they looked to get back into the match. They refused to give up and were rewarded for their fight and sustained period of attacking play in the 74th when that man Vernam flung himself onto the end of a brilliant cross by Santos to power home the equaliser. 2-2 What a game!!

15 minutes to go and it was all set up for a grandstand finish. United flooded forward in waves as they searched for a winning goal. With just 5 minutes left on the clock the reward came when a Riley cross fell to Olosunde who nudged it towards the waiting McTominay. With an instant swivel and turn McTominay smashed home a low drive past the despairing Derby keeper Navas. 3-2

O’Hara made two vital late saves to ensure the points were United’s in what turned out to be an exciting thrilling game. Its early days in the league but the result see’s United move into 8th with 8 points from 5 games.

Up next is a short trip to Liverpool on Monday 26th September where we face an inform table topping Everton team.

United Line Up:

O Hara, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri, McTominay Redmond*, Harrop, Willock, Scott*, Hamilton.

Subs: Olosunde for Redmond 58mins, Williams for Scott 64mins.

Make sure you join me RedInBed for more reserve match reports and news.

Please like, share and leave your comments in the comment section below.

Note: At no time has RedInBed actually been held kidnapped by a Mexican called Guillermo!!!!!

Premier League 2 review | Southampton 2-0 United

Southampton v Man Utd 22/08/16

After last week’s smash and grab against an experienced Leicester team, Warren Joyce and his young reds travelled to the South coast for our first away game of the Premier League 2 season versus Southampton.

Joyce was again forced into shuffling the team due to injury concerns and the recent departures out on loan of left back Borthwick-Jackson to Wolves and striker Wilson to Derby. Sam Johnston who has been carrying an injury was replaced in goal by Henderson. Ex Man City trialist Sadiq El Fitouri came into the team at right back as Riley moved to left back in the absence of the departed Borthwick-Jackson. The versatile Scott McTominay was bought back into the starting eleven replacing Olosunde as Joyce went for a 4-1-4-1 formation as he looked to add more of a cutting edge to the team that struggled to create any chance of note in our last game.

The opening exchanges were dominated by Southampton as they forced two corners in the initial five minutes. The first clear cut chance of the game for United came when good link up play from McTominay in midfield carved open the Saints defence, the resulting opportunity was wasted though as our captain James Weir who is usually composed when in possession blasted the ball high and wide.

Although the young reds were showing great passing ability in the middle of the pitch it was again obvious that without anyone to finish the good build-up play, it was going to be another drab affair.

The Southampton strikers, in particular Olomola, were causing more and more problems for the United defence and would have taken the lead on the 27th minute were it not for an excellent reaction stop from Henderson. United were being forced to weather the storm.

Another glorious chance fell at Weir’s feet two minutes before half time when the Southampton keeper fumbled a corner from Harrop, as the ball dropped to Weir 2 yards out he could only scuff the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.

As the second half started manager Warren Joyce made some tactical changes by moving Weir back into midfield and pushing Harrop up front. The changes failed to improve the team as Southampton looked to convert their dominance into goals.

The first goal of the game inevitably fell to Southampton when Kehinde failed to track his opposing player and the resulting cross was headed out by Tuanzebe only for it to fall at the feet of Sims and his deflected shot rifled past Henderson.

United tried to respond but without any sort of threat up front were left to try and score from long range shots. This game was crying out for a Rashford or Pereira type player and with Jose bemoaning the lack of first team games to play this should have been a game to give young players minutes on the pitch.

Southampton killed the game of when they scored their second of the game in the 62nd minute. United’s defence was again culpable when a lack of marking from a Saints corner allowed Stephens to head home unchallenged.

Joyce instantly responded to the second goal by sending on last week’s hero Demi Mitchell for El Fitouri but it failed to improve the performance of a lack lustre team on a sunny August evening. The impressive Olomola should have made it more but a couple of bad misses kept the score respectable as Southampton saw out the remainder of the game.

A disappointing result coupled with a below average performance had Warren Joyce visibly deflated in his after match interview. He will surely be looking for an instant response when we face a much sterner test on Sunday versus a strong Chelsea side. (Hopefully we find a striker before then!!!)

United Line Up:

Henderson, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri, McTominay Redmond, Harrop, Willock, Weir, Kehinde

Subs: Mitchell for El Fitouri 63mins

Please like, share and comment and look out for future reserves articles.

Premier League 2 review | United V Leicester

Man United V Leicester 15/08/16

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.

United Line Up:

Johnston, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, Borthwick-Jackson, Olosunde, Redmond, Harrop, Willock, Weir, Kehinde

Subs: Mitchell 68 for Olosunde

Goals: Mitchell – 88

Stay tuned for more reserve match reports and news from Premier League 2.

Please like, share and comment below.

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 3-2 Arsenal | Match review

United put the breaks on Arsenal’s title hopes after a second brace in two games from Rashford and a winner from Herrera secure all three points.

It was a game in which very few, including myself, expected United to emerge victorious. For United, outside of the top four, the squad riddled with injuries and Arsenal are up there challenging for the title, so naturally the gunners were favourites.

Then the game started. United looked bright, moving the ball around quickly and getting forward. When out of possession they pressed very well and frequently won the ball back. And then the unexpected happened. In the 30th minute United took the lead thanks to a goal from none other than Marcus Rashford! Juan Mata and Ander Herrera linked up with a little one-two (as they so often do) then Herrera fed the ball out to Varela who curled in a cross from the right hand side. The cross deflected off an Arsenal defender into the path of Rashford who drove the ball into the top right of the net.

Just three minutes later United doubled their lead. Mata, again playing an important part in the build-up, played a tidy ball out to Lingard who looked up and spotted Rashford in the middle. He hit his cross with enough pace leaving Rashford with nothing to do but direct the ball into the bottom left corner with his head for his second of the game. United were now 2-0 up and the crowd were rocking!

Marcus Rashford celebrates his first goal against Arsenal with Juan Mata (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Marcus Rashford celebrates his first goal with Juan Mata (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

United were brought back down to earth shortly before half time when Danny Welbeck pulled a goal back in the 41st minute. Mesut Ozil hit a free kick into the United box and Welbeck, making easy work of shaking off Morgan Schneiderlin, got his head on the ball to guide it past David de Gea.

At half time I started thinking that Arsenal were going to go on and win the game. I thought that the goal would rile them up and they would come at us. I also thought that we would end up desperately defending the whole second half (especially after the 3-0 drubbing in October), sitting deep and inviting them onto us. But thankfully I was wrong! Throughout the whole second half, when Arsenal had the ball, United pressed and defended high up the pitch and it made the difference.

Although Arsenal had slightly more possession, United’s defence did a sound job in keeping the likes of Ozil and Sanchez quiet. And in the 65th minute the hard work paid off as United extended their lead back to two goals with a goal from Ander Herrera! The move building up to the goal again involved Juan Mata. The Spaniard played a through ball out to Marcus Rashford on the right who held the ball up, waiting for support. He then played the ball across the ground into the path of Herrera who rifled a shot with the inside of his boot which went in via a deflection.

At 3-1 the fans were back on their feet and the atmosphere felt relaxed again. That was until the 70th minute at least when Ozil mis-kicked a volley that found its way into the top left corner. This goal set up what felt like was going to be a tense final 20 or so minutes. But it wasn’t. United defended very well, again, pressing and defending high up the pitch. They did what they had to do to see out the game and that even involved a little show boating while running down the clock, which the fans loved!

Ander Herrera celebrates his winning goal against Arsenal (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Ander Herrera celebrates his winning goal (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

It was a performance that all the players and fans should be proud of. From front to back United were solid. The defence held up well despite having two midfielders as centre backs, the midfield players all linked up well and helped to protect the defence and the attack, led by Rashford, was fantastic.

Let’s talk about Rashford for a second. A youth team player who made his debut against Midtjylland on Thursday night after Martial picked up an injury in the warm up before the game. There was no expectation, no burden on his shoulders. Just a chance to shine and shine he did. In that game and today’s, he showed his pace, his strength and his positioning and awareness. A true number 9. His second brace in as many games will fill him with confidence and belief that he can go all the way. The likes of Martial and Rooney will certainly have taken note of Rashford’s performances and rightly so.

Juan Mata also had a good game, linking up the midfield and playing a part in all three of United’s goals. Michael Carrick, despite an early yellow for a foul on former United player Danny Welbeck, also had a solid game at the back with plenty of interceptions and tackles. Morgan Schneiderlin had a very good second half cutting out passes and winning tackles. In general, the whole team performed fantastically and worked together to ensure the three points remained at Old Trafford.

The win lifts United back into 5th, just 3 points behind local rivals Manchester City [who have a game in hand] and United’s next game is on March 2nd at home to Watford. The players will be full of confidence going into this game and Watford have only won 2 of their last 10 Premier League games so I strongly believe we can win and put some pressure on a faltering Manchester City! Or maybe I am getting a little carried away?! We’ll see!

Paul’s player ratings – Man United V Arsenal

David de Gea (6) Protected well by his defence and couldn’t do much about the goals.
Guillermo Varela (6) Struggled at times with the pace of Sanchez and Monreal but effective going forward.
Micheal Carrick (8) Made several tackles and interceptions contributing hugely to United’s win.
Daley Blind (7) A calming influence on the game, always first to a loose ball.
Marcos Rojo (6) Not much to do but made a couple of good interceptions.
Ander Herrera (7) Scored what proved to be the winning goal and played his part in Rashford’s first.
Morgan Schneiderlin (8) An excellent second half reading the play and breaking down Arsenal attacks.
Jesse Lingard (7) Put in a battling performance and provided the assist for Rashford’s second.
Juan Mata (7) Fantastic work rate and played his part in all three of United’s goals.
Memphis Depay (6) Had few opportunities to shine but proved key in holding the ball and using his strength.
Marcus Rashford (9) Another fantastic performance again showing his awareness, vision and ability to score.

So what did you think of the game? Do you think it was an all round fantastic performance? Do you believe that top 4 is looking a little more realistic? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

You can also watch the United Stand live match reaction by clicking here or watching below:

Midtjylland 2-1 Man United | Match review

When the draw was made for the first knock out stage of the Europa League, the question on everyone’s mind was, “Who on earth are Midtjylland?”

Well, I’m sure you would have done your research but, for the sake of this blog post, let me give you a very brief reminder.

Midtylland are a Danish club who play in the Danish Superliga and have a stadium capacity of just 12,000. They have played in European cups on several occassions but rarely passed the qualifying or play-off rounds. This season however, they made it to the group stages and despite losing 9-1 over two games against Napoli, they still progressed to the knock out stages.

With that said, you can forgive the majority of people, myself included, for thinking that even with the lengthy injury list, we should still be beating this team comfortably. Oh how wrong I was. How very wrong.

It has been said many times that this is a tournament that United never wanted to be a part of and it really was evident when looking at the players on the pitch tonight. Throughout the whole game none of the players looked like they were interested. There was no fight, no desire, no will to just go and grab the game by the scruff of the neck and sweep Midtjylland aside.

Far too many times there were gaping holes in the middle where you would expect to see Mata or Herrera. Or even Carrick. Anyone with an ounce of awareness! But nothing. No movement, no forward thinking; just stale, uninspired, dribble. And I feel like a scratched record having said this many times already this season.

There were periods in the game where Midtjylland were dominating. Not many, but there were. There was even a period where they were just toying with us. It was embarrassing to watch. Apart from Memphis’ goal – which he was lucky to score – We struggled to create any real chances. Lingard came close near the hour mark when he hit a volley against the cross bar but that was it. Midtjylland on the other hand, forced a few fantastic saves out of Romero. We could have lost that game 3 or 4-1.

Memphis and co celebrate his equaliser (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Memphis and co celebrate his equaliser (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

With Rooney being out injured and Martial moving into the number 9 role, it was a big chance for Memphis to shine and gain some much needed confidence. I was full of hope for him. He has really struggled this season and I was praying that tonight would be his night. But again he was well below par. His decision making was poor; running into defenders, taking too many touches. I’m not going to write him off just yet though. I think that would be unfair. I believe under a new manager next season (assuming LVG won’t be here) he will be given a new lease of life. You never know, maybe we’ll start seeing the Memphis of PSV.

I have singled out Memphis because he is the player I was most excited about when the season started and he is the player who, for me, has the most to prove with his price tag and reputation for scoring goals and giving defenders a nightmare.

The rest of the team cannot get off lightly. Tonight they were all equally as poor. They all worked together to lose this game and they should all take a good long look at themselves. They may not agree with the manager’s philosophy but to show no desire to win is unforgivable. Especially when fans have traveled hundreds of miles and spent hundreds of pounds on tickets, travel and most likely accommodation.

Now, although I openly criticise the players – and I must say this criticism applies not just to tonight’s game but for many, many others – the manager, Louis van Gaal does not help the situation. His “philosophy” on and off the pitch is completely lost on the players. We can all see it and I’m sure he can too. He should now do the decent thing and walk away. Because it sure as hell does not look as though the board are sacking him anytime soon.

An emotionless van Gaal looks detached from the game (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
An emotionless van Gaal looks detached from the game (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Next up for United is Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup and I will not be making the same mistake in thinking we should win comfortably. In fact, in thinking that we will win at all. Never before has my confidence in United been so low and it’s horrible.

I’ll be interested to hear how you guys are feeling right now. Are you just as fed up, frustrated and as disillusioned as I am? Or have you learned to accept such mediocrity and are now just waiting for it to be over so we can start afresh with a new manager and new philosophy? Please comment below.

Also, if you want to hear what Mark Goldbridge thought of the game, watch his match reaction right here, or by watching below.

Thanks for reading!

Sunderland 2-1 Man United | Match report

Sunderland pile more misery on United with a 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light.

United have had many games this season where they have under-performed and this was one of those games.

No one player was particularly poor. It was a team effort to lose that game. There was no focus, no concentration and no will to win.

The football was scrappy for the majority and the players didn’t look like they wanted it. It was disgusting to watch. Louis van Gaal will be pleased that this game was not being played at Old Trafford as you can bet your bottom dollar that the fans would have been booing him down the tunnel.

During the course of the game, United had approximately 8 attempts at goal in total. Comparing that to Sunderland, who had approximately 15, jut shows which team wanted the victory more.

Sunderland opened the scoring in the 3rd minute with a Khazri free kick bouncing through the United defence and trickling over the line in bottom far corner. David de Gea saw it late and couldn’t get to it. But you can’t blame him for the goal or even say he should of done better. When you have 20 bodies in front of you, you expect one of your team mates to get something on it.

Man United managed to get an equaliser late in the first half when Mata’s rebounded shot fell to Martial who delicately chipped the ball over the floored Sunderland keeper from a tight angle. Before the goal and the saved shot that came before it, United had only one shot at goal.

The second half saw Sunderland dominate the game, creating lots of chances and having several shots at goal. During this period United grew frustrated and careless, picking up a handful of bookings.

Sunderland took advantage of United’s lack of intent and went on to score the winner in the 82nd minute with a goal from new boy Kone, who got his head on the end of a Sunderland corner.

The loss means that United remain in 5th but could drop to 6th today if West Ham win away at Norwich. The gap could also increase on the top four with all of them in action on Sunday.

Premier League
United remain in 5th but could drop to 6th if West Ham win at Norwich

There isn’t really anything more to say that hasn’t been said already in terms of United’s performances and the current situation we find ourselves in. We just have to ride it out for the rest of the season and hope some personnel changes are made during the summer. I think you all know who I am referring to.

What did you make of the game? Are you fed up to the point where you no longer have any expectations and you are just going through the motions as a fan? Let us know in the comments below.

You can watch the United Stand match reaction by clicking here or watching below:

Man United 3-0 Stoke City

United score two rare first half goals in their 3-0 victory over Stoke City.

As United fans we have been treated to some fantastic football over the last few days with a 3-1 victory at Derby and tonight, a 3-0 victory against Stoke City. After the let down that was the January transfer window, United fans deserved something to be positive about and the game tonight provided just that.

United started the game at a quick tempo and created several chances in the opening minutes of the game. Rooney came close in just the 6th minute, forcing a diving save from Jack Butland but, it was academy graduate, Jesse Lingard, who opened the scoring in the 14th minute. The assist came from another academy graduate in Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The 19-year old hit a drive low cross across the face of goal finding Lingard who finished with a low diving header to put United ahead.

Summer signing Anthony Martial also caused problems for Stoke with his predator-like runs, weaving gracefully past defenders leaving them dazed and confused. He came close to doubling United’s lead just a couple of minutes after Lingard’s opener after skipping past two Stoke defenders and powering a shot towards goal. It missed, but not by much.

Martial continued to give Stoke a hard time and in the 23rd minute doubled United’s lead with a spectacular goal. Rooney, on the right hand side of the pitch, spotted Martial unmarked out on the left just outside the box, so he played a square ball across to him. Martial controlled the ball, looked up, shaped himself and struck the ball with power curling over and around Jack Butland into the far corner of the net.

United were cruising and the crowd were loving it.

Jesse Lingard celebrates his goal against Stoke (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Jesse Lingard celebrates his goal against Stoke (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Stoke City did, however, have a brief spell late in the first half where they had a few attempts at goal but United’s defence stood firm preventing Stoke from causing David de Gea any real problems.

The second half saw United come out looking for more as they continued to push forward searching for the third goal that would surely kill the game off and it only took 4 minutes. Only the goal was disallowed as Rooney was penalised for a push on Glen Johnson before rocketing the ball between Butland at his near post.

But that didn’t deter United. Three minutes later, Daley Blind played a ball into Mata, who turned and spotted Martial to his left. Mata played the ball out to Martial who struck a left foot cross across the face of goal finding Wayne Rooney who simply tapped the ball into the net. 3-0. Game over.

With United 3-0 up and the game won, Louis van Gaal gave some game time to Memphis, Herrera and Pereira. Memphis looked sharp, hungry and full of fight so hopefully we will see him regain some form in the not too distant future.

After the win, United remain in 5th, still 5 points behind 4th. Spurs’ win carries them up to 3rd as Arsenal slip to 4th after they only manage a draw against Southampton.

United remain in 5th but keep the pressure on the top four
United remain in 5th but keep the pressure on the top four

So United have had a good few days in terms of both performance and results. Are we about to see a turn in fortunes? Will United go on a run and power back in to the top four? Have your say below in the comments box. We would love to hear what people think.

Also, don’t miss The United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge. Watch by clicking here or watching below:

Man United Team Sheet

de Gea
Darmian
Smalling
Blind
Borthwick-Jackson
Fellaini Substituted for Herrera at 80′ minutes
Carrick
Lingard
Mata Substituted for Pereira at 88′ minutes
Martial Substituted for Depay at 79′ minutes
Rooney

Substitutes

Depay
Romero
Herrera
Schneiderlin
Varela
McNair
Pereira

Stoke City Team Sheet

Butland
Johnson
Wollscheid Substituted for Bardsley at 30’minutes
Muniesa
Pieters
Whelan
Afellay
Walters
Krkic Substituted for Ireland at 60’minutes
Arnautovic
Crouch

Substitutes

Bardsley
Ireland
Odemwingie
Joselu
Diouf
Shaqiri
Haugaard