What We Learned: Champions League begins with a bang as Rashford rounds off rout

We all knew Stoke was just a blip, didn’t we? Any fears of a dip in form were quelled from the get go as Manchester United lived up to expectations against a far weaker FC Basel side as the Champions League made a welcomed return to Old Trafford. The result was expected, but there are always lessons to be learned, and here is exactly what we learned tonight against the Swiss.

The three M’s are a bit of alright

(Juan) Mata, (Anthony) Martial and (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan were all fairly excellent tonight in their own ways. Mkhitaryan and Martial particularly impressed throughout the game and it’s a pleasure to be able to see Martial especially back to his sparkling best after a rather tempestuous second season in Manchester. You can never say he is playing with a smile on his face (because I honestly don’t think he is capable of anything bar a wry smirk) but just the way he runs at defenders with power and pace is breathtaking at times. Mix in his lightning fast feet and wonderful ability on the ball and he really is a feast for the eyes. The same can be said of Mkhitaryan. He’s the nutmeg king surely? Though he may be wasteful at times, it’s everything in between that make you instantly forget he missed two absolute sitters tonight. Of the trip, Mata was less obvious. But his part in some of the intricate link up cannot be ignored and it is his ability in tight spaces that make him the asset he is.

Lindelof needs work, but there is something there

It can’t be easy coming to play in England from Portugal. And coming to play for Manchester United to boot. The young Swede hasn’t been given any opportunity in the League as of yet as Phil Jones and Eric Bailly continue to impress, but Victor Lindelof did his chances no harm at all with how he performed tonight. There was the occasional error in there, but what defender doesn’t make mistakes during a game? There were one or two crucial challenges in the area that potentially saved a sticky situation, and he definitely has some ability with the ball at his feet which is encouraging to see. He isn’t there yet, but I’ve faith he will be soon.


All in all the main talking point is the injury to Paul Pogba which hopefully isn’t anything to worry about. It’s difficult to comment on his time as captain as there really wasn’t enough time for him to make an impact, but his absence will be felt. Tonight it wasn’t as Marouane Fellaini replaced him excellently and fully deserves any praise he will inevitably receive. A goal and an assist in a thoroughly professional performance from the Belgian were the rewards for his efforts. His compatriot Lukaku continued to blow everyone out of the water with another goal – I have a feeling nobody will be laughing at fees when May comes around. And another competition debut for Marcus Rashford heralds another debut goal for Marcus Rashford as he and Martial look to continue to cause Jose Mourinho headaches. David de Gea made another super save to stop any twitchy bums, and Ashley Young again played well. No complaints. The season has started better than anyone could have imagined, and another test awaits in the shape of Everton at Old Trafford. Can United remain unbeaten? Let’s wait and see. I’ve missed the anthem, have you?


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