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Ratings: Zlatan, Rooney and Pogba pulled the strings in confidence booster

swansea

Manchester United scored three first half goals to secure a comfortable victory at Swansea City without conceding too many chances or goals. In first gear for most of the match, two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a wonderful volley from Paul Pogba allowed United to beat Swansea comfortably, despite a comeback in the second half that allowed Mike van der Hoorn to get Swansea on the scoresheet. With this win, United gained on Everton, Watford, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham, five of the eight teams ahead of the Red Devils. The speed at which the Premier League table fluctuates makes me believe that it is impossible to think United was written off so early, poor performances or not.

United showed today that a little bit of fight and a plan will ensure that the collective qualities of the team will win most matches without individual quality. Three well-executed goals from a team perspective showed that United should only depend on individual quality in the key moments, when up against the wall. Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata started out wide, creating a very narrow system from the off, and it worked very well to counter Swansea’s 4-4-2, because many of their players were deemed redundant in the 4-4-2 defensive setup. United ultimately fared well, and will use this win for confidence as the Red Devils play Arsenal in a fortnight.

Goals: Paul Pogba 15′, Zlatan Ibrahimovic 21′, 33′

Assists: Wayne Rooney 21′, 33′

Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick, Fellaini; Mata (Lingard 81′), Pogba (Fosu-Mensah 90+4′), Rooney (Schneiderlin 89′); Ibrahimovic

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Blind, Martial, Rashford

Bookings: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 76′, Juan Mata 80′

Manchester United

David De Gea

1 David De Gea

Made a couple of strange decisions in goal, but did his job when called upon.

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Ashley Young

18 Ashley Young

Showed energy and intent moving forward. I want to see him start on the left of attack to contain Hector Bellerin next week.

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Phil Jones

4 Phil Jones

Didn’t put a foot wrong, but didn’t really do much positively either. Looks far more comfortable on the ball than Smalling.

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Marcos Rojo

5 Marcos Rojo

He naturally influences the game more than other central defenders at United, barring Blind, because of his ability on the ball. I don’t know what the plan is next week in central defence.

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Matteo Darmian

36 Matteo Darmian

Mourinho answered my pleas to play Darmian at left-back, and he was rewarded. Looks better in all aspects of play there, and is less exposed for his lack of crossing ability. Could be the solution in this position, if Valencia, Riley or Fosu-Mensah emerges as the right-back.

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Michael Carrick

16 Michael Carrick

United somehow wins whenever Carrick plays. Whether they played well or poorly, scored one or five, United doesn’t lose with Carrick. He was flawless in midfield today, for the lack of heroism in his game. I want him to wear the armband next week.

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Marouane Fellaini

27 Marouane Fellaini

Didn’t do anything wrong, and got stuck in, but I still think United benefits more with the tenacity, urgency and adventure of Herrera when Carrick is there to ensure progress.

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Juan Mata

8 Juan Mata

Tidy display again. Moved around superbly, dribbled the ball out of pressure and transitioned the ball into attack on the right-wing. Replaced by Lingard.

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Paul Pogba

6 Paul Pogba

Pulled the strings for United in midfield. Took one of the best goals I’ve seen in a while. All he needs in his game is more goals, and despite saying that, he already has four for United. Replaced by Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

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Wayne Rooney

10 Wayne Rooney

Bit of a throwback to years when he was chief playmaker. Earned two assists. Made some good runs. When Rooney is motivated to fight for his place, he is a far more acceptable player. Replaced by Schneiderlin.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic

9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Finally ended his scoring drought with two good goals. Suspended for the Arsenal game with an annoying yellow card. Fair play to Rooney for drawing out the defender for his second.

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Substitutes

Jesse Lingard

14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Mata. Didn’t have the time or space to influence the match. He’s been out of form, so he needed the spotlight off him today and he got that.

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Morgan Schneiderlin

28 Morgan Schneiderlin

Replaced Rooney. He needs to play more minutes to get fit for the season, because he hasn’t played more than once a month this season and looks rusty.

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Timothy Fosu-Mensah

24 Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Replaced Pogba. Had no time to influence the match, but nice to see him in midfield again.

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