What We Learned: Lukaku breaks goal drought, Shaw is back, and Pogba will be missed

Manchester United beat CSKA Moscow 2-1 at Old Trafford to win the group in the UEFA Champions League, sealing a place in the round of 16 draw on Monday. United fell behind after Santos Vitinho scored, with an Alan Dzagoev deflection, which was an offside shout but not given, to take the lead at the end of the first half. Come the second half, United were seeking a leveller, which came through Romelu Lukaku, from a Paul Pogba assist in the 64th minute, United taking the lead two minutes later through Marcus Rashford, assisted by Juan Mata, which won the game.

United did all they needed to do, well they did not need to win, but they did, which is a good thing and increases the confidence ahead of the Manchester derby. It was a night where United made it 40 matches undefeated at Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams turning into that fortress once again. It will all be for nothing if they do not get a result against Manchester City in the first Manchester derby of the season on Sunday. Jose Mourinho’s side, without Pogba, will be fired up for the match.

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Romelu Lukaku was going to scored soon, said Mourinho, and he did

So-called United supporters were calling for Romelu Lukaku to be dropped after he failed to score goals, seemingly failing to see what he had to offer with his work-rate during each match, which continued into this match. The Belgian was unlucky not to find himself on the scoresheet much earlier with United starting the match with chance after chance. In the 64th minute, Paul Pogba sent a stunning kick into the box with Lukaku head to head with his man, winning and beating the goalkeeper. Drought over, confidence increased and gunning for Manchester City on Sunday.

Mourinho had stated his striker will start scoring again soon, and guess what, he was right. Perhaps instead of trying to make themselves Twitter famous, these fickle fans who seem to want to complain all the time should learn patience and show the values of the word. Since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and the rise of social media, fans who were unheard of before are not seen and heard, making the digital world a fickle place when United don’t beat their opposition with double-figure goals. What a pathetic world we now live in. Sorry if you are offended, snowflake.

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Paul Pogba will be a big miss for the Manchester derby, but United will have to persevere

Paul Pogba will now miss the next three domestic matches; Manchester City (H), Bournemouth (H) and West Bromwich Albion (A). He will be available for the Carabao Cup fifth round clash with Bristol City on the 20th December 2017. The Manchester derby would have been a big occasion for the Frenchman, and for Manchester United, who will be seeking to overturn the noisy neighbours dominance in the Premier League this season, currently sitting eight points clear in the league.

Pogba would have offered creativity, pace, that push for more, but United will have to seek that from other players. Ander Herrera was back in action against CSKA Moscow, so will probably have an opportunity against City, all depending on whether Nemanja Matic is fit, as he missed the final Champions League fixture through injury, so Herrera may have to stand in for him. Marouane Fellaini could be fit, but Mourinho has said nothing about the Belgian midfielder, so right now, we will have to wait and see what United pull out of the bag against their bitter rivals.

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Luke Shaw seemed raring to go against CSKA Moscow and should have forced himself into contention to face City

Set to be named Manchester United Man of the Match on his first return to action since coming on as a substitute in the carabao Cup against Swansea City in October, Shaw was ready to stake his claim to the left-back position. There has been a lot of talk that United were interested in offloading Shaw and bringing in Danny Rose from Tottenham Hotspur, but right now that is just hearsay. Shaw could make the left-back position his own and seemed determined to do so from kick off against CSKA.

Shaw had two shots on goal and was unlucky not to score or get an assist in the first half of the match. The English defender seemed capable of making the Russian side fear him everytime he ran up the flank. United playing with three at the back, which turns the fullback into a wing-back seems to work with the players United have and with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones back in contention, after injury, United will have a very strong defence which could cope with similar formations for the remainder of the season, as long as it does not get to predictable.

The point is that Shaw seems to have battled with his demons and this restart to his career could be the one that makes him. Against CSKA, he showed the signs of the player United signed from Southampton, a good sign on the player standing up and making himself counted.

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Manchester United have continued their fine start to the season. The knockout stages of the Champions League are in the bag. The first Manchester derby is days away and United will be seeking to win the battle of Manchester. The festive period is one where United will play matches days apart and rotation will be key. United have plenty of players to do this and it can work. Knocking City off their (slight) perch will be key at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday. United got the better of Arsenal and City are not beatable. Mourinho needs to continue this momentum into the New Year.

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