Manchester United had to rely on an 80th minute strike from French winger Anthony Martial to beat top of the table rivals Spurs this weekend as Jose Mourinho’s side closed the gap on local rivals Man City. We’ve highlighted the five main things we learnt from the Red Devils’ triumph.
1 – Martial is magic
Following United’s shock 2-1 defeat to minnows Huddersfield last week, French international Anthony Martial was dropped by Jose Mourinho for Spurs’ visit to Old Trafford. However, the player ended up proving his manager wrong, as the 21-year-old ended up scoring the winner 10 minutes from time close the gap at the two to just two points. It was the former Monaco ace’s fourth goal coming off the bench this season, a stat that makes you wonder if being a super-sub is Martial’s best role.
2 – Spurs need Kane
Now it seems pretty obvious to say, but Spurs, especially today, missed their talisman Harry Kane dearly. Mauricio Pochettino’s side looked pretty poor going forward, as the duo of Dele Alli and Heung Min-Son struggled to link up, something that was obvious time and time again throughout the match. With Kane in the side, Spurs look a different outfit as they have an outright attacking force with the former Leicester loanee leading the line, something they simply don’t have without him.
3 – Chris Smalling looks back to his best
Former Fulham starlet Chris Smalling was given the opportunity to start today for the Red Devils, and he certainly made the most of it. The 27-year-old was absolutely superb for the home side today, with the defender being dominant in the air and calm on the ball, he was our man of the match for today’s match. Should we see the defender start in United’s next few matches, it’ll be interesting to see if the England international can keep up this impressive vein of form.
4 – Jose Mourinho silences the critics
Following criticism from fans and the media about Mourinho’s play style and tendency to play defensive football, today’s performance almost definitely put his haters to shame. United were class throughout and were always the side who looked more likely to open the scoring, and they eventually did through Anthony Martial.
5 – Dele Alli needs to step it up
Last season, Spurs’ 20-year-old ace Dele Alli looked absolutely world class, with the England international managing to bag himself 18 goals and nine assists in 37 league games, however this season, he looks a completely different player, in a bad way. The former MK Dons star has been poor this season, with the player only managing to score three and assist one in the league so far this season, and following today’s performance, it certainly seemed like it. The midfielder failed to make a name for himself this match, and came very close to losing his head following an altercation with Ashley Young. Should Alli fail to take his performances to the next level, we may see Pochettino drop the player, which would surely come as a big blow to his confidence.