There are lots of things for Manchester United to be positive about heading in to 2018…

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera believes the club can take many positives from the 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day. United completed the double against the Merseyside club, previously winning 4-0 at Old Trafford at the start of the season, meaning United have put six goals past Everton without reply this season. United did not have the best of form over the festive period, being knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the hands of Bristol City, a 2-2 draw with Leicester City, a 2-2 draw with Burnley and a 0-0 draw with Southampton – the latter two matches played at the Theatre of Dreams.

The Spanish midfielder believes United have turned a corner from their poor run of results, returning to winning ways at the start of a new year. Herrera feels United are starting to hit top form again in a month which will be sparsely filled with fixtures, which after playing nine times in December will be welcome. United will be pitted with Championship club Derby County in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Friday evening, looking to secure a place in the fourth round of the competition, adding another fixture to the month. Herrera talked about the rising form of Jesse Lingard, a player who scored twice against Burnley, from 2-0 down, also scoring against Everton on Monday. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Herrera said:

“I think we have a lot of options. We played with a lot of midfielders but, in another game, we may need more wingers, so we cannot complain because we have a fantastic squad and [have] no excuses when we draw or lose. We did very well but we have people ready for other types of games.

“We deserved to score before [Anthony Martial’s opener]. I made a shot in the first half, also Paul [Pogba] and Jesse, if I’m not wrong. And in the second half, before Jesse’s fantastic goal, we also had the chance of Juan [Mata] and very good crosses from Luke Shaw. I think we created a lot of chances, and in different ways, some shots, some penetration, some one-twos, so a lot of good things that we have to keep [doing].”

Herrera has lauded Lingard’s golden touch, the 25-year-old scoring seven goals in his last nine games, which shows that despite the criticism from sections of supporters, Lingard is a player worth his weight in gold in the team at this current time. Not every player is well-liked across the fan base but the hate for Lingard is pretty poor for supporters who mock other teams for brandishing the same treatment to stars. Lingard is everything United stand for, a somewhat local lad raised the United way through the Academy and earning his place in the team. Sir Alex Ferguson saw something in him to suggest he would be a late developer, which has rung true so far. Speaking about his teammate, Herrera said:

“Fantastic. When you are like that, you have to shoot, shoot, shoot. I am not in that moment, you know – I shot three times [at Everton] and didn’t score, but I will keep looking for that moment. 

“Jesse has it now and he has to keep trying to shoot, but the movements he does for the team are also important. He’s very quick as well; no-one can touch him, so we are very happy for him. He wants to improve, to be a fantastic player – you can see that in every training session and he’s showing that in the games.

“But I don’t want to speak only about Jesse; I think Anthony today was fantastic as well. He hasn’t played as a striker for a long time and he did fantastic. Juan also as a midfielder coming to help, Victor [Lindelof] out of position did amazing, so some very good things that we can take from the game.”

Lingard was not the only player the Spaniard praised, singling out compatriot Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and summer signing Victor Lindelof, who all contributed to the victory over Everton and will be tasked to keep United in the FA Cup on Friday evening. United have had a period they may want to forget, especially falling 15 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, rising back to second place, which could be taken away against this evening if Chelsea beat Arsenal in the London derby. The season is not over yet and City have not actually won the league – but it looks good for them. Anything can happen in football and as long as United go back to grinding out results, this season will still be the best for United post-Ferguson.

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