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What We Learned: Jose’s playing the way that United should

I wrote an article in the week about the importance of this game today, and three points very, very well earned at a ground many have found it tough at against a side that last time kept Manchester United at bay. It was a pleasant end to a week of high emotion and extends the unbeaten run to 23 games ahead of what will now be one of the tensest derbies in recent memory. It’s nicely poised for it, here is what we learned this afternoon against Burnley.

The future’s fast

Of course the injury sustained by Zlatan Ibrahimovic is horrible and a real blow to Manchester United in the run-in. But what was a horrid incident could well prove to be a blessing in disguise as now the opportunity falls to two of the players that have been below par this season thus far. Marcus Rashford showed his credentials before the injury against Chelsea and then by scoring the winner against Anderlecht on Thursday, today was the turn of Anthony Martial and boy did he take it with both hands. He took his goal beautifully in an old fashioned manner (one I thought we may have seen the back of for a while too) with a pacey and incisive counter-attack ended by a composed and precise slot into the bottom corner. He then went on to make more sprints than anyone on the pitch and look strong and back to his old self once more. Ibrahimovic will be missed, but maybe not as much as we first thought.

Midfield mastery from a surprising source

This time last weekend we were half an hour in to the best show of man marking seen for a good while thanks to the superb Ander Herrera. Today we saw yet another solid display of keeping a dangerman silent, but you won’t hear much about it and I certainly didn’t see myself writing anything about how well Marouane Fellaini kept Ashley Barnes completely silent. No, the Burnley man is hardly Eden Hazard but he is still a professional and still a danger. Fellaini matched him perfectly and was a real force in the middle for the entire 90 minutes and deserves plenty of plaudits for the way he showed himself.

Pogba prevails once more

He hasn’t been exceptional every game this season by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe still hung up on his price hah, but absolutely just a young man with a lot of pressure on such inexperienced shoulders Paul Pogbas’ every movement is analysed to the nth degree and any mistakes picked up on instantly. Today he deserves plenty of praise which (like Fellaini) I’m absolutely certain he won’t receive. Pivotal in the build-up to the second goal, Pogba was exceptional today and is now just starting to emerge as the player we all know he will be.

Conclusion

It was three points that will do very nicely. A point separates United and City now, and should United win on Thursday it will be just rewards for the work Jose Mourinho has done so far. It is the bare minimum to finish in the top four, but it still has to be done. Ashley Young was brilliant again today, and Wayne Rooney deserves a mention for his goal. It could be his last in a United shirt and he looked every bit the depleting force fans identified him as 12 months ago. Job done. No complaints. I hope that Pogba doesn’t join the ever growing injury list and look on to Thursday night. Pillows at the ready, you’ll likely need them.

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