Manchester United continued their honeymoon period under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after beating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 away at Wembley on Sunday. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal of the game at the stroke of half-time to seal three points for the Red Devils, who are gaining some much-needed momentum ahead of an important period of the season.
Solskjaer depicted his managerial propensity that worked wonders, especially in the first half. His idea of positioning Rashford on the inside left channel caused trouble to the centre-backs. Eventually, the goal came from that route and the striker was clinical to score on the counter.
David de Gea made some stupendous saves to deny the home side a chance to equalise in the second half. Paul Pogba had another terrific game under the new regime, providing the assist for the only goal of the game and being a threat with the ball in the midfield.
Let’s tactically and statistically analyse the performances of David de Gea and Paul Pogba against Tottenham Hotspur:
Talking about the first half, where Manchester United controlled the game with and without the ball, Pogba was at the thick of things. The Frenchman chose to be behind the ball after the break as Spurs went for the broke. However, his ball-carrying ability on the counter and the propensity to make runs in the box was a threat all game.
In terms of tactics, he was given the free role in the midfield to pick the moments to perform a particular job. In possession, the Frenchman moved forward and joined the attacks, while without possession, he supported his midfielders to close out the spaces.
He made 30 passes with an accuracy of 81% and also made three key passes, one of them being a wonderful assist for Rashford. The 25-year-old attempted six dribbles and was successful in four of them. He had five shots on target, epitomising his threat when time and space are given around the box. The Frenchman won 7 of the 18 duels, which is a good return. (Sofascore.com)
All this being said, had David de Gea not been in goal, United could have conceded at least twice. The Spaniard was just on top of his game, making save after save to deny the opposition.
Spurs had an expected goal (xG) of 1.80, meaning the chances they created should amount to them scoring close to two goals in the game. (Expected goal number – UnderStat.com)
But De Gea made 11 saves, all in the second half, most of them with his feet, to thwart the Londoners. His ability to read the minds of the attackers and move his body accordingly to make a save is something outrageous.
He doesn’t have to always get down and apply his hand to stop a shot, and rather uses his feet to block the shots that are hit low and hard. Phenomenal.
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