Manchester United have had a topsy-turvy season so far. After a poor run of results, Jose Mourinho’s men seem to have finally turned a corner, grabbing four convincing victories in their last four games. Three of those came in the Premier League, which has eased a considerable amount of pressure on Mourinho and his team. They now sit in the 6th place in the league table.
The cup competitions have been much luckier for United though. They won the FA Community Shield at the start of the season, and have followed it up with a strong run in the EFL League Cup and have reached the semi-finals of the competition. The UEFA Europa League posed a little tricky situation though, but the Red Devils managed to get through to the subsequent round and with a favourable draw in the Round-of-32, they look all set to progress further in the competition.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been in splendid form for the Red Devils, having scored 16 times this term in all competitions whereas it has been seen heartening to see Juan Mata emerge as a key player under Jose. Ander Herrera has been nothing short of brilliant so far in the midfield, while Michael Carrick continues to defy his age with strong performances one after the other. And with Paul Pogba also looking to have found his groove, the future looks bright for Manchester United.
What does 2017 have in store for the Red Devils? The title seems a far reach now with Chelsea leaps and bounds ahead, but the top four is still very much in consideration and add to that the incentives of the Cup competitions, United still can come out from the season with a lot of positives.
Here we compile ten pictures that sum up United’s season so far:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a huge statement, scoring the winner in his first competitive game for United as they defeated Premier League champions Leicester City 2-1, to get their hands on the first silverware.
And Manchester United started their league campaign on a very strong note, defeating Bournemouth 3-1 in their opening game, with Zlatan getting on the scoresheet again. They backed it up with a 2-0 win over Southampton where the giant Swede grabbed a double and a late goal by Marcus Rashford against Hull City gave the Mancunians a 1-0 win. It was a huge statement made, going into the September international break as league leaders.
Things suddenly went pear-shaped for Mourinho and United after they lost their first derby of the season 1-2 against Manchester City at the Old Trafford. The defeat came as a bitter pill to swallow, more so with Jose’s arch-rival Pep Guardiola in the opponent’s dugout. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, making his first start, was taken off at half-time and would not play for United for months to come. The Red Devils then lost their Europa League opener away to Feyenoord and then followed it up with a humiliating 3-1 defeat at the hands of Watford. A bright start had turned gloomy within a matter of weeks.
The Red Devils however, did end the month of September strongly, with 3 wins in 3 games. A 4-0 victory over champions Leicester City showed the lethal side of this United side, with Pogba scoring his first and second goals for the club after his return. And it was followed by a 3-1 win over minnows Northampton in the EFL Cup and a 1-0 triumph against Zorya Luhansk in Europe.
However, things went downhill again for Mourinho’s men as they managed to grab just three points from four PL games in the month of October. It all started with a 1-1 draw at home against Stoke City, where an inspired Lee Grant in the Potters’ goal defied United. One of the biggest clashes of the season was next, with United travelling to Anfield where they came away with a point following a goalless draw against Klopp’s Liverpool. But the lowest point of the season for United came next as they were thrashed mercilessly 4-0 at Stamford Bridge by Mourinho’s former team Chelsea. It was a humiliating defeat as the Blues tore apart the Mancunians, and seemed to have dented United’s confidence. Another home draw followed as Burnley managed to hold on for a point at the Theatre of Dreams.
There was however one silver lining for Mourinho in the month of October as they got one over derby rivals City in the EFL Cup fourth round, beating them 1-0 at home, thanks to a second half goal from Juan Mata.
Having defeated City, there was some positivity around Old Trafford and United began the month of November with a 2-1 win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League. After a dry spell, Zlatan then led the Red Devils to a 3-1 victory in Wales against Swansea. But a late goal from Olivier Giroud halted their run as United were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Arsenal. Two more draws followed after that, with strugglers West Ham United managing to leave the M-16 with a point while another late penalty conceded against Everton meant United were held to a one-all draw at the Goodison Park. Mourinho and his team were left pondering over their mistakes late in the game, lamenting on what could have been if they had held onto their leads.
Amidst all this, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was brought back from his exile by Mourinho against Feyenoord in their Europa League game at home, and boy what a statement the Armenian made on his return. His link-up play with the likes of Mata, Rooney and Zlatan was a treat to watch as United won the game 4-0 very comfortably. He was again instrumental in the 4-1 dismantling of West Ham in the EFL Cup setting up two goals for his team leading them to the semi-finals of the competition. The 27-year old then scored his first goal for the Red Devils in United’s 2-0 away win at Zorya Luhansk showing what United had missed in his absence.
5th placed Tottenham visited Old Trafford then and Henrikh Mkhitaryan continued to win hearts with another marvellous display, capping it off with the only goal of the game, as United won 1-0 against their top-four rivals. It was a typical Mourinho team on display as they sat deep and looked to hit the Londoners on the counter. The United players defended stoutly and managed to protect their clean sheet, after having been guilty of giving away late goals. The win gave the 20-time League Champions plenty of confidence and it has shown since. However, they did lose Mkhitaryan to an injury late in the game, but the injury wasn’t severe and he is expected to return for the Boxing Day fixture.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba came in with a lot of expectations this summer. Zlatan started off the season in majestic form but seemed to have hit a dry patch after the first month. Pogba, on the other hand, struggled to get going in the early stages. But now both the stars have hit top form for the Red Devils. Both feed off each other and enjoy playing together as was evident in United’s 2-1 win against Crystal Palace. Zlatan set Pogba up with a chest down for United’s first goal and late in the game with scores at 1-1, Pogba turned provider for the Swede with a sublime through ball that Ibra hit into the net clinching three points for United. Both of them were again key at the weekend against West Brom with Zlatan scoring both the goals in the 2-0 triumph whereas Pogba went about his job in midfield with another solid outing.
The Zlatan-Pogba partnership has become very important for United, this early into their careers at Old Trafford and will be extremely crucial come the new year.
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