Manchester United made light work of Bob Bradley’s Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday which meant they finally capitalised on a few results that ended in their favour in Matchweek 11. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the likes of baccarat-squeeze.com had a high number of visitors from the Manchester area following the good mood that must have been in the air in the red half of Manchester.
Jose Mourinho’s United, following a disappointing defeat in Istanbul, named a largely makeshift back four comprising of Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo, Mateo Darmian and Phil Jones who made his first start for the Red Devils since January. In midfield, Michael Carrick was reinstated in front of the back four to provide stability and balance with skipper Wayne Rooney, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata playing behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The visitors started the game brightly unlike recent games which almost paid off as early as second minute when Rooney broke away with the ball as his shot missed the far corner of the net by a few inches. United went on to hog most of the possession with Carrick dictating the play from deep which also meant Pogba had more freedom to move the ball in the final third from the inside left channel – often linking up with Darmian and the captain.
Paul Pogba opened the scoring, which was a culmination of 35-year old Carrick finding Zlatan Ibrahimovic through the lines, a clever piece of movement from Wayne Rooney beyond the back four who were pinned back to vacate space on the edge of the box as the ball kindly fell onto the path for the Frenchman to put his laces through it. Pogba still had to do well to beat Fabianski, which he did for his fourth goal of the season for United in all competitions. United created a couple more chances before Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first goal in the Premier League since the derby in early September thanks to Wayne Rooney’s clever pull back to find Swede. The pair combined again to score the third goal of the match and Zlatan’s second, which took his Premier League tally to 6 in 11 appearances for the club.
It was by and large the most comfortable win Man United have had away from home this season and the final result, for once, reflected their dominance on the pitch. Michael Carrick was as usual the architect as the 35-year old effortlessly drove United forward with his pinpoint passing ability – to facilitate the vertical movement of the team which has been accused of being static and pedestrian in the recent defeats. Out of 88 passes he attempted on the day, a remarkable 84 were successful in finding a red shirt but what is more significant is the fact that 56 of those passes were directed forwards (52 completed).
It is not a coincidence that Paul Pogba, the talisman figure at Manchester United in many ways, is able to play and oftentimes excel with the ball on his feet charging towards goal and bringing others into the game, whenever Michael Carrick is behind him providing the assurance and calmness in midfield, should things go wrong. It is also not a coincidence that Manchester United have managed to win all five of their games in which Michael Carrick has started. If Manchester United were to get the best out of their best individual player which is key to winning games of football, they have to create an environment where these sort of individuals can thrive in. This is why the importance of playing Carrick to Pogba is for instance, analogous to the same as that of Marcos Alonso to Hazard, at Chelsea.
With the international break now upon Manchester United and the rest of the Premier League, this much needed win and three points will have filled the whole camp with relief, and if anything, some optimism as the Red Devils are now only three points off fifth placed Tottenham and six off fourth placed Arsenal, whom they will come up against, once the Premier League resumes in a fortnight. If Mourinho were to improve on his impressive record of zero defeats in 13 games against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, he needs to place more trust in his veteran midfielder than he does at the moment.