United yet again make the most of their opportunity and grab thee points to go level with Liverpool at the top of the table. Fans may hesitate to get too excited just yet – and rightly so, it’s still early days – but the belief is starting to grow.
The Reds managed to see out a narrow 2-1 win at home against an increasingly impressive Aston Villa side. Both teams were at from minute one, so Ole and Dean Smith can be proud of their respective efforts.
David de Gea – 8
Had a select few shots to deal with – the pick of the bunch being that tip-over from Watkins point-blank range. The shots on goal seemed to ramp up towards the end but he pulled out all of the crucial stops when it counted.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 7
Solid at the back as per, even with being at fault for the goal but hugely encouraging going forward. Even without his assist, he showed lots more vertical movement and conviction when deciding how to best round a player. More of that please.
Eric Bailly – 9
As erratic a figure he can be in those select moments, things just look a lot more composed defensively when he is in the side, at least in the first half). Tonight marked four consecutive starts for the first time in what feels like forever and he was an absolute rock at the back – that last-minute block epitomizing his contribution. Here’s hoping he can stay fit and in form (the booking for overzealousness was even enjoyable too!)
Harry Maguire – 7
Similarly solid, though Villa’s left-leaning tendencies meant he had slightly less to do than his centre-back partner. Regardless, he stayed vigilant, cleaned up nicely and put in another regular, routine and professional performance as we’ve come to expect from him, especially in a challenging second half.
Luke Shaw – 7
Another solid performance from the left-back. He seems to have been steadily rebuilding his confidence and match sharpness over the past few weeks, rarely putting a foot wrong over the past few weeks. Good to see him doing the basics well and still looking to bomb forward whenever possible.
Fred – 7
As mobile and tireless as ever. Split his time between screening the defence, harrying defenders and occasionally getting forward. Misplaced the occasional pass and wasn’t tidy as in recent games, but did the dogged work as needed – that midfield duo becoming more consistent and reliable game by game.
Scott McTominay – 7
Though he might not have hit the heights of his star-showing against Leeds, the young Scotsman played competently and did enough to stay in that constant midfield battle. Again, a few stray passes and slightly less adventurous than you would like, but more than did his job in the double-pivot.
Paul Pogba – 8
Had an absolutely magical opening 45 minutes; he did everything: dribble, pass, press, create chances. His combination play was the most exciting part about his performance and as the second half demanded large periods of defending, he did his duties well. Some positive signs that his groove has been growing from over recent weeks, let’s hope it carries on.
Bruno Fernandes – 8
The man is inevitable. End of. Had an excellent first half and even with some quieter spells at points in the game, he showed the same quality he always does. Put his penalty away simply this time and was helped by being one of several creators tonight.
Marcus Rashford – 8
Gave everything out on the pitch as usual, even if it not everything panned out. Some of his vision and dribbling, in particular, was off your seat type of stuff
Anthony Martial – 8
Another strong performance from the French forward. Good to see him getting amongst the goals and assists consistently again, was just a matter of breaking the duck and getting his confidence his back. A lot better in his all-round movement, took his shots at the right time and the finish was exactly the kind of goal you want from a number nine.
Nemanja Matic – 5
Came on to do a very clear job: shepherd out attacking threats, close down as quickly as possible, and he did exactly that. Did look somewhat sluggish and careless with his decision-making, hence the yellow card, but it was exactly the kind of job he was asked to.
Daniel James – 5
Fairly short cameo and could turned a couple of half-chances into a game-killer, but helped bring inject some energy, allowed Villa less time on the ball and could have had a bigger impact on a different day. Don’t mind seeing him come on situations like that at all.
Axel Tuanzebe – 5
Minor cameo, not much to be said other than it’s nice to have him as an option on the bench when looking to see out results like that.