From Old Trafford – There are so many takeaways to reflect on from Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday at Old Trafford, it’s hard to know where to start.
That Mikel Arteta’s Gunners dominated the play for large parts of the 90. That United’s new €100m signing Antony from Ajax showed no signs of being overawed at a now expectant United crowd – capping off his 55-minute debut with a well-taken finish and several celebrations to go with it.
Perhaps that Arsenal, a year plus ahead in their development compared to their counterparts, allowed two goals and the game to slip from their grasp from a position of strength, or United, who have steamed to three points behind them after four wins in a row following one of the darkest defeats in recent memory. And there’s been lots of them.
Or, maybe, it’s match-winner Marcus Rashford, whose first-half assist and second-half double put the before-today-perfect league leaders to the sword for their first defeat of the season.
We’ll go with that one.
His opposite number Gabriel Jesus, starting through the middle for Arsenal, made life difficult all afternoon for United centre backs Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez, and proved a focal point physical and skilful enough to retain possession to help his team build and sustain pressure high up the pitch. Erik ten Hag would like United to sign a striker and they would do incredibly well to attract one of his calibre.
Rashford meanwhile spent chunks of the match as a source of frustration for the home crowd, often losing battles with opposing defenders or lacking understanding with those around him to help United progress into the final third. United failed to gain control of the game until Rashford struck his first and it came against the run of play. United don’t have the players in a number of positions to dominate games.
But ultimately, his contributions decided the match.
25 next month, Rashford is in a make-or-break year at his boyhood club after a difficult couple of seasons both on the pitch and with injuries. But while United are finding it hard to play off him, he’s now well and truly back with a bang – affecting games with the sharpest tools in his skillset.
Rashford has time this year to work on the weaker parts of his game but is embracing what he’s good at, making key goal contributions in three of United’s last four wins. If he can continue to keep doing so, he’ll be a vital part of Ten Hag’s United for years to come, and United have big decisions to make on the futures of a number of first team players this season; Rashford being one of them.
Rashford played a key role in carving apart Arsenal for the opener, finding space and the right weight of pass to lay on Antony, but took advantage of his pace, ability to finish and Arsenal’s high line when afforded the opportunities in the second half, as the visitors pressed ahead for a winner themselves.
He should continue to embrace his best attributes instead of falling into old habits, and that’s what he’s doing at the moment.
Days and moments like this will only serve to build up the confidence of a player who has been without it for some time, and it’ll go a long way to rebuilding the stuttering career of one of United’s finest academy graduates if he can keep them going.
Marcus Rashford, one of football’s good guys, is scoring again and smiling again.
RUMOUR: Man Utd could launch shock Pickford swoop as they consider letting De Gea go
Manchester United may consider a shock bid for Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the midst of uncertainty encompassing David De Gea’s future, reports propose.
As per the Telegraph, United are not persuaded they need to broaden De Gea’s agreement, which runs out in June and procures him an astounding £350,000, and could allow him to go free of charge in June.
The Spanish shot-stopper, who was omitted from Luis Enrique’s Spain squad for the international break, suffered a poor start to the season with a raft of errors most notably at Brentford.
And United are also dealing with a high wage bill that reached a Premier League record of £384million last season.
The Red Devils announced earlier this week that their salaries have increased by a whopping £61.6m from the previous year.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s return as well as Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane’s arrivals led to a 19.1 per cent increase in their salary bill as well as a net loss amounting to £115.5m.
United are assessing their long-term plans and a change between the sticks can’t be ruled out, even though De Gea, 31, has improved recently and has been integral in the last 11 years at Old Trafford.
That could bring England’s No1 Pickford, 28, into the frame come January.
The Everton shot stopper has various clubs carefully monitoring his situation as he will have just one year left on his Everton contract at the end of the season.
The England international is also a homegrown player, which is very appealing to his suitors.
The new signings that will dominate the Premier League this season
In every league around the world, there are players who stand head and shoulders above the competition. The players who dominate those around them and put teams to sword.
When it comes to the Premier League, there’s a number of new signings looking to do just that in 2022/23 – and they will take some serious stopping.
Liverpool’s new shiny striker Darwin Nunez was an imperious force in Portugal’s Premeira Liga last season, racking up 26 goals in just 28 appearances for Benfica.
The Uruguayan was equally as effective on the Champions League stage, and it was his performance in the two-legged game against Liverpool that convinced Jurgen Klopp and the club’s hierarchy to part ways with £64m – potentially rising to £85m if Nunez activates all the bonus payments and clauses added on to the deal.
A strong, powerful player, Nunez has already shown what’s to come in some impressive early season performances.
Arsenal have been crying out for a central striker oozing quality ever since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fell out of favour before leaving.
In Gabriel Jesus, they have acquired a proven winner, stemming from a number of hugely successful seasons with Manchester City. A versatile player who possesses skill, pace and a keen eye for goal, 25-year-old Jesus is only just entering the prime of his career – and brings so much experience to the table.
The Gunners are looking to bag a top-four finish in the Champions League and, with Jesus leading the line, they have every chance of dominating games this season.
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte demands the very best from each and every one of his players, with the Italian’s standards set as high as anybody in the game.
Croatian winger Ivan Perisic is somebody Conte worked with at Inter, and the pair lifted the Serie A title together in convincing fashion. The 33-year-old is heading towards the twilight of his career, but his incredible fitness, work ethic and mental strength means he remains one of the world’s very best wide players.
Operating as a wing-back these days, Perisic can dominate games in any third of the field, and Premier League defences will be terrified by the unknown threat he carries.
Kalidou Koulibaly has long been recognised as one of Serie A’s best defenders, but now he’s got the opportunity to show that he’s one of the very best the world has to offer.
A terrific reader of the game and fiercely strong in the tackle, Koulibaly has made a habit of pocketing forwards and dominating play from the back – something Chelsea have been crying out since Antonio Rudiger departed for Real Madrid.
Now in his peak years as a centre-half, Koulibaly has all the tools to ensure Chelsea dominate the vast majority of games they play in.
One of the standout performers at Manchester City for a number of years, Raheem Sterling decided to try something new after accepting that Pep Guardiola could no longer offer him the number of his starts his talent deserves.
City’s loss is very much Chelsea’s gain, with 27-year-old Sterling established as one of the Premier League’s most consistent forwards. Be it scoring goals, creating chances or breaking on the counter at pace, the England international continues to strike fear into defences up and down the country.
Already a member of the Premier League’s ‘100 club’, expect Sterling to deliver in spades full for Graham Potter and Chelsea.
Fulham returned to the Premier League in style last season, storming to the Championship title at a canter.
Life won’t be so easy for the Cottagers in the Premier League, but in Joao Palhinha they may have completed one of the most impressive bits of transfer business in the division. A star player at Sporting CP, Palhinha has all the attributes required to dominate Premier League midfields – with his stunning goal at Nottingham Forest a glimpse of what he can do.
Standing 6’3 tall, Palhinha was once named in the Premeira Liga Team of the Year, and he could push Fulham towards safety with some commanding displays.
Chances are if one player is going to dominate the Premier League above all else, it’s going to be Erling Haaland.
In the interest of sporting fairness, it was probably a touch unnecessary for Manchester City to sign Haaland, given how good they are already and given how unbelievably good he is. Nevertheless, the reigning Premier League champions got the deal done for a steal of a price – and the Norwegian now looks primed to tear defences apart week after week.
Unbelievably athletic and incredibly consistent, Haaland’s career statistics speak for themselves, and his opening day double-salvo against West Ham was the first warning shot to the rest of the Premier League – the 22-year-old is here and he is here to dominate.
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