With Manchester United moving level on points with Arsenal in the Premier League table following a 1-0 win at Wembley over Tottenham, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the key talking points.
5. Early chances go begging
Having promised not to be ‘naive’ but attack his opponents all the same, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side stayed true to his word, going toe-to-toe with the home team as early chances for both sides went begging. Spurs dominated the ball for a spell at the start of the game, creating their first opportunity via the departing Heung Min Son, the South Korean setting up Harry Winks who could not get his shot on target. It was United’s turn next as they created back-to-back chances, Jesse Lingard skying from close range and Anthony Martial’s forcing a save by Hugo Lloris from an acute angle – ensuring neither team opened the scoring early on despite the flurry of chances either way.
4. End-to-end first half culminates with Rashford opener
In a fiercely contested first half which almost resembled a game of chess at times, both United and Spurs traded blow for blow – Harry Kane’s goal correctly ruled offside before United very nearly went through on several occasions. The end-to-end contest finally led to an opener, Marcus Rashford drawing first blood for the Red Devils. Set up by Paul Pogba with a sublime pass that sent Lloris back-pedaling, Rashford took a touch before driving an arrowed finish into the bottom left-hand side of goal from the most acute of angles that sent his team into half time a goal to the good.
3. Dave saves
While United started the first half the same way as the second – creating a chance of their own for every Tottenham opportunity, it quickly descended into a pattern of the away team retreating into their own half and Spurs piling the pressure on. Post the 60th minute, in fact, it was one-way traffic with only one man responsible for keeping Mauricio Pochettino’s team at bay – David De Gea. Making one save after another, De Gea denied each of Kane, Alli, Alderweireld and Llorente at point blank range to keep United’s lead intact and win the game for his team almost single-handedly.
2. Top-4 race closer than ever as United move level with Arsenal
11 points behind both Chelsea and Arsenal a number of weeks ago, United have steadily climbed up the table – taking it one game at a time and are now level with Unai Emery’s men on 41 points while an out-of-sorts Chelsea side are only 6 points ahead in 4th place. A task that seemed nigh impossible when Jose Mourinho left suddenly seems achievable, with Chelsea scheduled to play Arsenal next – a game where United could potentially reduce the gap to just 3 points and blow the race for 4th spot even more open than it is now.
1. Perfect audition for Ole
Billed by many as the audition for the permanent job as manager at Old Trafford, it is no doubt that the United hierarchy will certainly have been keeping an eye on events at Wembley. Having admitted he doesn’t want to leave at the end of the season just a couple of weeks back, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer proved his credentials with a tactically-astute win, that too against the reported front-runner for the job – Mauricio Pochettino. Now holding the record for the best-ever start by a United manager, even if the baby-faced Norwegian departs at the end of the season, he definitely won’t have any regrets about not giving it his best shot.