The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW32): Brighton 0-3 Man United
Manchester United travel to the Amex having beaten Norwich in the FA Cup courtesy of a late goal from Harry Maguire, and they have their own destiny in their hands as they are leading a race for fifth position in the table which is good enough for a Champions League place next season. Brighton going into this fixture four points above the relegation pack and would like a result to help them get some distance for their own piece of mind.
Bruno Fernandes had the best opportunity in the opening period of the game, hitting the thirteenth minute the Portuguese hit the bar. Manchester United were pinning Brighton into their own half. Their attack minded play payed off when quick build up play down the away teams right channel saw Wan-Bissaka lay the ball to Mason Greenwood who drove through the Brighton defence and got a shot off which Ryan in the Brighton goal had no chance of saving. Brighton’s tactics of stifling Man United hadn’t paid off, with the Seagull’s having lots of bodies in midfield, but nobody winning the challenge. A bright start for the Red Devils.
Brighton could barely get a foothold in the game which United were dominating, and Luke Shaw’s perseverance down the left channel saw him cross in the ball which found Paul Pogba, the Frenchman set up his midfield partner Fernandes who took on a shot from the edge of the box that squeezed into the back of the net past Ryan. The Red Devils were making use of both channels, but we must be critical here of two things. For one, the ball went out of play when Greenwood received the ball in the build-up, and we aren’t sure VAR made the correct call on Luke Shaw who looked offside before his cross that lead to the ball. Man United deserved a lead in this match, we are just always critical of how quickly some VAR decision are made, when sometimes it can take several minutes for them to relay their result, but it was instant in this fixture.
Withing the first five minutes of the second half the Red Devils picked up where they left off…changing the score sheet. A well defended cross from Maguire saw Matic deliver a superb long ball to Mason Greenwood on the left wing, the young Englishman picked out Bruno Fernandes with a peach of a pass, with the Portuguese midfielder striking the ball into the ground and into the back of the net. Mason Greenwood has been exceptional on the pitch today, and Brighton look completely desperate, with a long half they now must endure.
Brighton became more positive with less to play for, and Trossard having a shot that just wisped past the back post from wide, in the first real sequence of Brighton dominating the ball. The Seagull’s best bit of play happened after the drinks break with Aaron Conolly forcing a save from distance, with Brighton now having found their pace in the game. Much better from De Gea after recent mistakes against Spurs. Moments later, Trossard came close again. The substitute just missed the right post with De Gea just watching, with once again fresh legs from the bench changing the game. Neal Maupay then forced De Gea into a fine save when he came off the bench, with the game now more evenly matched.
The closing minutes saw Brighton’s rejuvenated presence come to nothing, with Manchester United keeping the hosts from getting past David De Gea. The Red Devils had the match won in the first half, and did well to see out a Brighton team who played more positively with the introduction of substitutes.
Man of the Match: Mason Greenwood (MUN)
You may be thinking why this isn’t Bruno Fernandes, the Portuguese midfielder was dangerous, but he was the player who the team tried to get the ball too for the final shot on goal. Martial played as a decoy in this match to occupy the central defenders, and Fernandes would drift into the pocket of space for the goals. The player that drove the team to victory was the young forward Mason Greenwood, who was playing so well OGS kept him on the pitch. Greenwood was involved in all three goals.
Mason scored the first with a ruthless drive through the Brighton defence, the second goal was triggered with Mason recovering the ball, and the third goal was a result of his perfect counterattack and cross for Fernandes’ goal. The Englishman has come on leaps and bounds at Manchester United, and has all the stats and returns to show that his potential isn’t just hype. Greenwood has relished the pressure and is now asking questions of other attackers in the team, and the forward line of Rashford-Martial-Greenwood appears to be the default for Manchester United right now. Mason did everything in this match, the goals are Fernandes to keep, but United’s match winner today was Greenwood.
BHA 0-3 MUN - Insight and Analysis:
Manchester United’s counter press in this game was brilliant, Brighton had more bodies in midfield, but they felt outnumbered with every United player keen to hunt down the ball. They realised that winning the ball high up the pitch was an option, and they kept making Brighton pay for poor possession. The only problem is that Brighton set up so negatively in the first half that it was easy for United to take advantage of the space being offered to them. Better teams would ask United questions, and this was the case in the second half when Brighton brought on their creative players who did a better job at defending through attack, than their four defensive midfielders did all game.
Graham Potter needs to stick with a core team and cut out the rotation, it is clear his team isn’t settled, and the last thing they want is the chasing pack behind them to close that space. Maupay, Connolly, and Trossard were unlucky not to score today, it was one of the better De Gea performances this season, and if you were Trossard or Maupay it is harsh that they didn’t start in this fixture as they have the spark that will score Brighton goals. You can’t get regular results with regular rotation, and instead of adapting to other teams, focus on yourselves. I’ve seen it time and time again against top six clubs…teams who sit back more times than usual have their defence easily broken.
The only bit of the game I grumbled about, and for the usual bias reasons, was United’s second goal. Shaw looked more offside than half the goals ruled out for a player being level, and the ball went out of play just before the goal sequence. VAR is there to cut out obvious officiating mistakes and take more than three seconds to decide if an offside call is right or not. The norm is for a minute or two wait for a decision, and they had the decision moments after the goal was scored. They didn’t even show the replay on TV with the lines as I think it was offside. VAR isn’t meant to have double standards, and it just ‘happens’ to be when Manchester United are playing. Don’t get me wrong, United were class today and would have won the game regardless of that call, but it is just another moment that officials have spared United’s blushes.
Venue: The Amex
Manager: Graham Potter
GK: Matty Ryan
LB: Martín Montoya
CB: Shane Duffy
CB: Lewis Dunk (Bernardo 81')
CB: Dan Burn
RB: Tariq Lamptey (Trossard 45')
CM: Yves Bissouma
CM: Dale Stephens
CM: Davy Pröpper (Maupay 45')
CAM: Alexis Mac Allister (Mooy 81')
ST: Aaron Connolly (March 87')
Button, Schelotto, Bernardo, Pascal Gross, Aaron Mooy, Solly March, Trossard, Glenn Murray, Neal Maupay
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjær
GK: David De Gea
LB: Luke Shaw (Williams 64')
CB: Harry Maguire
CB: Victor Lindelöf
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
CDM: Nemanja Matic
CDM: Paul Pogba (McTominay 64')
CAM: Bruno Fernandes (Pereira 64')
LM: Marcus Rashford (James 78')
RM: Mason Greenwood
ST: Anthony Martial (Ighalo 78')
Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Fred, Andreas Pereira, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Odion Ighalo
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