Robin Van Persie’s sixth and seventh goals against Southampton in the Premier League was enough for Manchester United to walk away from St. Mary’s with all three points. The Saints were left to rue over their missed opportunities as they lost their third-straight game against one of the big boys.
Here are the major talking points from the game.
United lucky to come away with win
After the game, Gary Neville said that Manchester United “got away with murder.” And he was spot on as the visitors put on, what was perhaps their worst away performance of the season so far and yet managed to come away from St. Mary’s with all three points. Their defending was shambolic, their midfielders were unable to string a few passes together and had just three shots on goal, which was the lowest that any Premier League side had managed so far.
And yet in, Robin Van Persie they had a clinical finisher, who took both his chances to give his side their fifth-straight League win and move into third place ahead of West Ham and Southampton. The Red Devils may not be performing as well as they would like on the pitch, but they are certainly getting the job done and that is certainly a worry for the other teams around, who can’t seem to string a couple of wins so far.
Saints mental fragility haunts them
Although they didn’t start as good as this season, they were still in and around the top four places in December before slowly fading away and finishing eighth last year. One of the main reasons for that was their performance against the big sides. So far this season, they have played against three of last season’s top four and have lost all of them and have also lost against Tottenham and Manchester United.
One of the main reasons why many didn’t think that they would push on into the Champions League was because of their poor record against the big sides. Whether it is because of their mentality or their inability to finish their chances, the Saints have struggled again this season. Although they enjoyed much of the ball against United, they were never able to carve out United with any real consistency and on the occasions they did, their strikers were unable to take it and that meant that they lost their third-straight game and the pressure mounts on the Saints to get a win quickly.
United show plenty of resilience
Whether it is by design or by default, United have had to employ a variety of formations this season. Whether it was the 3-5-2 at the start of the campaign or a 4-2-2-2 after Angel Di Maria’s arrival, the Red Devils have gone through formations like a box of chocolates. And it looks as though, things are slowly starting to come together for the Red Devils. This wasn’t only their fifth straight win, but also their second away win and for all their calamitous defending, they only conceded one.
The fact that Van Gaal hasn’t really had the option of a settled line up so far, speaks volumes for the reason why so many formations have been used. But I guess the good thing is that even in those bad performances, like the one against Southampton, they were able to win and if they continue to do that, they will be able to put some daylight before the end of the month in their bid to qualify for the Champions League next season.