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What We Learned: Manchester United cruise to another victory

Manchester United routed a dismal Crystal Palace side 4-0 at Old Trafford today. With four different goal scores and another clean sheet in the books, here is what we learned.

Competition is a good thing

Early in the season, Marcus Rashford noted the benefit of his and Anthony Martial’s competition for playing time on the left-wing. As time has gone by, we continue to see both players stepping their game up to another level. In the midweek clash against CSKA Moscow, Martial tore the Russian side apart and had a hand in all four goals. Today, Rashford provided two assists and gave Mourinho exactly what he wanted. Instead of needlessly arguing about who should be starting, United fans should enjoy watching both players raise their game to another level. With each player keenly aware that they cannot slip up, their performances will only improve.

Ashley Young back to his best

Every year since Sir Alex Ferguson retired there seems to be a point in the season where Ashley Young steps up and demonstrates his immense quality. Since his return from a serious injury, Young has been fantastic. Playing as a fullback on both sides of the pitch and as a wingback midweek in the Champions League, Young’s versatility has been a huge boost in the busy month of September. Against Crystal Palace, the former England international showed off his improved positioning and decision-making in defence. Wingers are used to taking players on and playing riskier passes to try to break the back-line. When they lose possession, it usually isn’t a huge concern. That is not a luxury allotted to a fullback. Today we saw Young play simple passes, and quickly get the ball out of danger as quick as possible. His crossing has been excellent, and the ball he put in for Fellaini’s first may be his best of the season. It is great seeing him back to his best.

Marouane Fellaini proves his worth . . . yet again

It really is amazing that there are still United fans getting upset when Fellaini’s name appears in the starting lineup. While Ander Herrera is a fantastic player, Fellaini simply brings something to the game that few in the world can replicate. It is not just his towering presence, but his positioning and ability to hold off defenders. On Rashford’s cross for the third goal, Fellaini did not have to move an inch to score. He was in a perfect position for Rashford to pick him out. On United’s second goal, he simply overpowered the defender to make sure he got in on the end of Young’s cross. The aesthetics will never be great with the Belgium, but Mourinho recognizes his true value. It is about time all United fans did as well.

Lukaku must score, he always scores

Romelu Lukaku did not have his best game for Manchester United today against Crystal Palace. Often mirrored by two center-backs, he found it difficult to receive the ball into space and to get in behind the defense. At times, the service to him, whether in the air or on the ground, wasn’t good enough. However, despite his struggles, the Belgium scored yet again. A marker of a truly great striker is to score even when they don’t play to their best. His miss midway through the second half was disappointing, but Lukaku never stops working for that goal. Like all great strikers, he is desperate for goals and will do anything to get them. At this point, it is hard to imagine him doing anything other than scoring in every single game. Undoubtedly, United fans everywhere will not have a problem with that.

Conclusion:

Crystal Palace are a poor side in the midst of an injury crisis. Anything less than a dominant performance would have been disappointing. However, after years of mediocre wins and frustrating draws, a 4-0 victory should never be taken for granted. To end an incredibly busy September on such a positive note will only bode well for the future.

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