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What We Learned: Manchester United can win when it matters; Pogba blow in Manchester derby

Manchester United beat Arsenal at the Emirates for the first time since the 22nd November 2014, the 2014/15 season. United scored in the opening four minutes through Antonio Valencia, scoring his second goal of the season, assisted by Paul Pogba. In the 11th minute, Jesse Lingard scored his second goal of the week, assisted by Anthony Martial with the match brewing after United went 2-0 up. There were plenty of chances for either side in the first half, nothing changing the game. Four minutes into the second half, Alexandre Lacazette scored what turned into a consolation goal.

In the 63rd minute, Lingard struck again with his third goal of the week, this time assisted by Pogba. Eleven minutes after United third goal, Pogba was sent off for a challenge on Hector Bellerin which was hard for some and deserved for others. United endured an Arsenal onslaught for the remaining fifteen minutes plus stoppage time, persevering and taking all three points back to Old Trafford. This season, United have played four of the top six clubs from last season, winning twice, drawing once and losing once.

Manchester United can win when it matters

Manchester United have shown the Premier League that they can draw out wins when it matters, not that it was something that needed to be proven. Over the past five seasons, United have not challenged for the Premier League title when it matters, seemingly hitting the top spot or close to it early in the season, falling a long way off when it actually matters. This season has seemed different with United playing 15 league matches, winning 11 of them, drawing twice and losing twice.

United have earned 35 points this season, scoring 35 goals, conceding nine and keeping nine clean sheets. No matter where United are placed in the league, second, this kind of form shown a massive amount of improvement. Last season in this fixture, United fell to a 2-0 defeat with key players missing from the match. Having two of those players back, plus three summer signings, United rose to the challenge and dominated the game, too quick in attack. This should tell the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool that United can win these matches.

Paul Pogba will be a miss for the Manchester derby

Paul Pogba was sent off for a foul on Hector Bellerin, which will see the player miss the Manchester derby at Old Trafford a week on Sunday, which will be a massive blow for United. Pogba suffered an injury earlier this season which saw him out of action for two months of the season, suffering the injury in the 3-0 victory over Basel in the UEFA Champions League on the 12th September, returning in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle United on the 18th November. When he was injured, United looked short on creativity, Marouane Fellaini spending some time on the sidelines too.

The thing is, United adapted without Pogba in the side for two months, so for three matches or more in the worst case scenario, United should be able to find other options. Marouane Fellaini missed the Arsenal match and the Watford one, suspicion is that he has a knee injury, so that will mean two midfielders out of action again, then with Michael Carrick building his fitness from his heart issues, it will leave Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay in midfield – viewing the worst case scenario. Mourinho on Pogba’s red card:

“I don’t know. I’ll leave that one for you [the media]. I’ll leave for you the Lukaku situation with [Laurent] Koscielny and I’ll leave for you the Arsenal players on the grass but I’ll probably be the same because the grass is absolutely beautiful. I think there is a desire to go for the grass!”

Goals are not a problem for Manchester United

In the last two matches alone, United have scored seven goals, beating Watford 4-2 and Arsenal 3-1. Romelu Lukaku is enduring a goal drought, something which will end sooner or later. Mourinho has suggested just that in the past few days. Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the Arsenal game and has not scored on his return from injury, but it is early days yet. Players from all over the pitch are scoring goals with Jesse Lingard scoring three this week, Ashley Young scoring twice, and Anthony Martial and Antonio Valencia both scoring one each.

If that continues, and it needs to, striker such as Lukaku and Ibrahimovic will not be relied on to score goals, taking the pressure off them, which could result in more goal being scored by them. Romelu Lukaku scored eleven goals in his first ten appearances for the club, which shows he has something in the bag. Ibrahimovic was similar last season, scoring 28 goals before injury wrecked his season. The goals are coming and long may it continue. United have scored 35 goals in the Premier League this season, they scored 54 last season and 49 the season before that. Improvement.

Conclusion

Manchester United have a long way to go this season, four league matches to play before the halfway point of the Premier League season. Keeping the chase on Manchester City is the important thing. City are currently five points ahead of United, with a game in hand. The worst case scenario will be that they retain their eight-point lead, but with them yet to face United, with six points for the taking, there is a chance United could claw down the deficit. United should be fired up for the derby, more so if City lose or draw to West Ham United, although I can’t see that happening.

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