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Manchester United clinched a narrow victory courtesy of a brace from Paul Pogba

Three points in the bag and it was job done for Manchester United. Well, actually not quite as easily as it suggests. West Ham came to Old Trafford in the hopes that they could capitalize on the hosts’ recent slump in the form where they had lost 4 out of the last 5 games.

Goal scorers:

MUN - Pogba 19’ (P), 80’ (P)
WHU - Anderson 49’

It was a rather unimpressive display from the hosts as they had to rely on 2 Paul Pogba penalties on either side of half time to crawl past a West Ham side that put up a fight on the day. Felipe Anderson managed to get the sole goal for the Hammers. Let us take a look at some of the important talking points from the game!

#1 Solskjaer rings in the changes

Marcos Rojo, Juan Mata, Phil Jones and Anthony Martial got the nod to start after the last game against Barcelona. Even Mason Greenwood got a run off the bench. While Rojo was more of a compulsion due to Shaw’s suspension, the rest were brought in to see what they could offer ahead of the crunch 2nd leg midweek vs Barca. They played rather average if not good. Scott McTominay was afforded a rest after the brilliant showing last game and most probably is in contention for another start the next game.

#2 West Ham denied a contentious goal

In the 10th min, inside the Manchester United box, Javier Hernandez headed the ball towards Felipe Anderson who smashed it in only to be ruled out by the linesman. Closer looks reveal that the last defender, Jones, played him onside. This makes the decision of overruling the goal a wrong one. Had the goal stood, the game would have played out differently. Instead Manchester United went on to score a goal from a penalty at the other end. VAR cannot come sooner!

#3 Paul Pogba produces a fine, all round performance

It had been a while since Pogba had scored (10 games) or assisted (8 games) a goal. Manchester United’s downturn in form coincided with this bleak spell of his and results were proof of that. They were struggling as much as their talismanic midfielder and a performance like the one against West Ham was much needed. He scored the two penalties with assertion minus the snail-like run-up. While he may not have looked effective on the eye, he did have a great game with numbers to back that up.

#4 West Ham were much the better side

It could well have been a win for the London outfit had the linesman not incorrectly ruled out Felipe Anderson’s effort early in the game. West Ham had more possession, took more shots, completed more dribbles, won more aerial duels, had a better pass success rate and won more corners. They seemed to lack the clinical nature in front of goal as only 4 out of their 18 shots were on target. Michail Antonio came the closest to scoring twice when he hit the bar and his goal-bound effort was somehow parried by De Gea, all this in the space of 2 minutes. It’s rather unlucky that they walked back empty-handed from the game.

#5 An unconvincing win, defence needs work

Manchester United struggled to create anything of note throughout the match. The introduction of Marcus Rashford increased the pace but other than that, two spot kicks were needed to overcome a West Ham side which had won just twice in the last 5 games. Their opponents gave a tough fight and almost nicked a result had it not been for some shoddy tackling in the box. As for the defence, United have gone 9 games without a clean sheet. That is nearly 2 months since the Liverpool shutout, which is a huge concern. In this game, De Gea and Rojo were responsible for the goal conceded. De Gea’s throw to Pogba backfired and Rojo’s negligence at the back post meant that Anderson could tap one in. A lot of work needs to be done on the backline if results are to be improved.

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