Manchester United battered West Ham United at Old Trafford in the Premier League but could not bring home the three points on Sunday. Three days later, the two sides met again in the same setting to contest the quarter finals of the EFL Cup. With Mourinho serving a touchline ban because of his disgraceful treatment towards the innocent water bottle on Sunday, Rui Faria was given the task of directing the team for the second time this season.
Mourinho kept faith with his 4-2-3-1 and yet again started Zlatan Ibrahimović up top. This misfits of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Wayne Rooney and Antony Martial made up the forwards supporting the big Swede in attack. Behind them, Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera had the job of breaking up West Ham’s forays forward. In defence, the ever reliable Antonio Valencia held down the right while Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo partnered the centre of defence. On the left, Luke Shaw was reintroduced from his exile to prove to Mourinho that he has the mettle to solidify a place in the starting eleven. David De Gea started in net which gave the impression that Mourinho is serious about progressing in this competition. With Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and now Arsenal out, the EFL Cup might be United’s best shot at silverware this season.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Reds stormed out of the blocks with intent, immediately showing West Ham that they were not going to be in for an easy night under the lights at Old Trafford. A smart through ball from Rooney found Mkhitaryan who, in turn, coyly back-heeled the ball into the path of Ibrahimović, who put the hosts ahead in the first two minutes. United continued to storm forward, but the Hammers managed to snatch an equaliser when De Gea spilt Payet’s shot into the path of ex-Red, Ashley Fletcher. Suddenly, United looked like a team sapped of confidence. Yet again they had dominated. Yet again they were back level. Into half time the teams went and whatever Mourinho said to the men in red had a significant impact on the rest of the game.
United meant business in the second half, and this time, they carried out the deed. A brace from Martial followed by another Zlatan goal topped off a brilliant attacking display by Mourinho’s men. However, the highlight of the night was probably the reintroduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger to the United team. A standing ovation and cheers every time he touched the ball greeted the German, and the smile on his face could not have been wider. While it is very unlikely that the World Cup winner will make any real inroads into the United team, it is nice to see a true legend of the game appreciated properly.
GK: David De Gea: 5
Only faced two shots on target: one of them he parried right in front of him, the other was Fletcher’s rebound which ended up in the back of the net. Definitely not his finest moment. Despite not being called on again, the Spaniard did show good distribution; sparking two counter attacking the second half from long, accurate throws.
RB: Antonio Valencia: 7
A game of the highest highs and some pretty low lows. Got forward very effectively, as he often does, but exceeded most fans’ expectations by pulling off one of the cleanest back-heels to Mkhitaryan for United’s second goal. Made a clever run that was found brilliantly by Ibrahimović and slid the ball across to Martial for the third. Defensively, Valencia struggled with Cresswell and Payet’s interchanges in the first half and picked up a yellow card for three silly fouls. He also gave Payet too much space for his shot, which, inevitably ended up in the back of the net.
RCB: Phil Jones: 7
Looked similar to the Phil Jones who was touted by Sir Alex Ferguson to be United’s next world class defender. Won 100 per cent of his tackles (2) and 100 per cent of his aerial duels (4) with two interceptions and three clearances thrown in for good measure. Did have some classic ‘Phil Jones’ moments, however. He completely misjudged the trajectory of an aerial ball and turned his back only to ricochet the ball to a United player off his neck. He also completely mishit a clearance in a dangerous position which could have been punished if West Ham’s forwards had been more alert. All in all, a solid outing.
LCB: Marcos Rojo: 8
Like, Jones, had an impressive game winning 100 per cent of his tackles (6) and 80 per cent of his aerial duels (4). Unlike Jones, Rojo did not make any horrendous errors which could have put United’s momentum in jeopardy. Made and very respectable eight clearances and three interceptions. Rojo is really starting to develop into a decent centre back and viable competitor for Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly when they return from injury.
LB: Luke Shaw: 6
After being completely left out of the squad for the fixture on Sunday, Shaw was given the chance to prove Mourinho that he is of United’s quality. The youngster did enough; he stopped the threat of Michail Antonio down the right and made some decent forays forwards. Unfortunately picked up an injury just before half time and so is unlikely to feature against Everton at the weekend.
RDM: Ander Herrera: 7
Not as commanding in midfield as he has so often been for United this season. The game, in general, seemed to pass the Spaniard by with the majority of West Ham’s attacks coming from the wings. Missed an important challenge in the build up to West Ham’s goal but other than that had a sound game. Showed good feet to dribble past the West Ham defender and pull the ball back to Ibrahimović for United’s fourth.
LDM: Michael Carrick: 7
Like Herrera, not as crucial to United’s game plan as he has been in previous matches. Controlled the possession and gave United much needed composure in a pretty hectic game. Will hopefully be partnered with Pogba and Herrera for United’s clash with Everton on Sunday; the Reds have won 8 of the 9 games Carrick has played in this season.
RM: Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 9
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The man of the match for the second game in a row that he has started. Brought a huge amount of composure to United’s attacking play and chose the right pass in almost every instance. Started the game with a timely back-heel for Ibrahimović’s opener and set up Martial with a no-look pullback for the Frenchman’s first of the game. Played a whopping seven key passes, two more than the whole of the West Ham team combined. Has shown his quality two games running and should be rewarded with a start in the Premier League for the first time since the Manchester Derby.
CAM: Wayne Rooney: 9
Hands down the best performance by Rooney in the last four years. Back to his rugged and ruthless best, charging up and down the pitch like a bulldog. Was involved in United’s opener by playing though Mkhitaryan and took three West Ham players out of the game in the process. Proceeded to spread the play quickly and effectively, something which has been lacking from his game in recent times. “Rooney’s on a bender” was the chant heard from the Stretford End and rightly so. Since the England skipper was caught out boozing he was scored two goals and picked up four assists in seven games. Have a beer on us, Wayne.
RM: Antony Martial: 8
Looked like the electric winger who took the Premier League by storm last season. Gave Antonio and Kouyate a torrid time with his direct running and grabbed a very impressive brace to double his scoring tally for the season. His first finish was emphatic while his second showed his natural striker’s instinct. Was wasteful at times and some of his decision making showed a bit of rust. However, a definitive step in the right direction for the young Frenchman.
ST: Zlatan Ibrahimović: 9
Started brilliantly by dinking the ball over Adrian in the second minute. Despite suffering the goalkeeper’s studs to the knee, the Swede, in typical ‘Zlatan’ fashion, got up and got on with the job. Missed two very good opportunities to score in the 6th minute but his work rate was phenomenal, pressing from the front and giving the West Ham defence not a moment of peace. Played an incisive no-look through ball to Valencia for the third and doubled his scoring tally with one of the last kicks of the game.
Daley Blind: 7
Covered for Shaw well enough and did not let West Ham have any sort of joy down his flank.
Bastian Schweinsteiger: N/A
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Came on to the biggest cheer of the evening and played with a smile on his face for his brief cameo on the pitch. Had a long range effort fly past the post and was important in playing through Herrera for United’s fourth goal of the night.
Marcus Rashford: N/A
Came on in the final moments to run down the clock and barely touched the ball.
All statistics provided by WhoScored.com