After Manchester United’s emphatic 6-2 demolition job on Leeds United, fans of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were starting to become optimistic.
It has been a difficult start to the season, with some incredibly poor performances, most recently against RB Leipzig in which their fate out of the Champions League was sealed. But Manchester United, along the way, have shown promise in the final third, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford being on the score sheet regularly.
The Red Devils currently sit five points off top spot but with a game-in-hand against Burnley to play. After their indifferent start to the Premier League
Remarkably, Manchester United have six wins from six on the road this season, with only Leicester coming close with five and one loss. Solskjaer has found a way to soak up pressure and hurt teams on the counterattack that gives his players the platform to score an endless number of goals.
The Red Devils played this perfectly against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds last weekend. The team from Yorkshire attacked and attacked, leaving Man United with a four-versus-four opportunity on each turnover – which of course they punished time and again.
With 14 shots-on-target, it went down as United’s most in one game since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. Such was their relentlessness, it could and arguably should have been double digits for goals.
Where Manchester United need to improve on is their defence, especially if they are to have any hope of sticking on the tail of Liverpool past the Christmas break and into the New Year. While they have only conceded two more goals in the Premier League than their Liverpudlian counterparts, it is the sloppy manner in which they have conceded them in that irks the fans.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are prone to fast-paced players that can run in behind them and cause damage. As seen against Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew run rings around the centre back pairing all game and picked up three well deserved points for their troubles.
Liverpool have the lethal weapons in attack and handling their injury crisis in defence exceptionally well, it has to be said. Their crunch match in mid-January at Anfield will be telling to see how far Man United will be able to go for the rest of the season – especially with other competitions to balance out.
But first they have a Leicester City that is filled with pace, agility and guile. A comfortable win against Tottenham put down a marker for all to see not to write them off from doing the unthinkable once more. It will be a difficult test of Mancheser United’s concentration and fitness coming into a hectic period – especially having had played a few days prior in the EFL Cup quarter-final against Everton.
Solskjaer, as he is doing, has to keep spirits high over the next few weeks. It is expected that Man United will struggle at times, but as long as his attack is firing on all cylinders in the way it has shown so far, they will always have a chance to go toe-to-toe with anyone.