What We’ve Learned: Defence worries, midfield creativity, Pogba and Lingard performances, Rashford needs help up front

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Monday evening. It was the seventh Premier League match of the season, the third 1-1 draw in the league this season. United need to be doing a lot more in order to win matches. They have not scored more than one goal in a game since the 4-0 victory over Chelsea on the opening weekend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to get something working within this team, otherwise it will be too late to rise from the ashes this season. It is not only in the Premier League that this team has been poor, scoring one goal against a defensive Astana side in the UEFA Europa League, drawing 1-1 and winning on penalties against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup.

There are many problems to be seen within the squad right now. One is injuries, which can strike at any times, another is the lack of experience from experienced players in the team. Many of the players in the team have been at the club for more than one season but the lack of leadership, fight, desire, and determination is telling.

The defence should be the strongest part of this team but injuries and illness have made it weak with experienced players not doing enough to carry the team forward.

United missed Aaron Wan-Bissaka massively against Arsenal on Monday evening. With the arrival of the 21-year-old and Harry Maguire, United defence was a lot stronger than it has been but so far it seems to be reliant on these two players. Maguire did not have his best match for United against Arsenal but was not poor by any means.

Axel Tuanzebe played in the left-back position, an unfamiliar position for him. In the first half he was playing well but made a mistake in the second half with Victor Lindelof making another, which led to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s equaliser, which saw United drop two points at the Theatre of Dreams.

With Wan-Bissaka on the sidelines through illness, Luke Shaw through injury, this strong defence has been turned into a weak defence once again, especially with Lindelof seeming nervous of late. Perhaps Tuanzebe could partner Maguire in upcoming matches to see if the best could be brought out of this team.

The midfield lacks creativity, something which should have been addressed in the summer. Paul Pogba has yet to rise up and show his leadership skills.

We all knew that the midfield would be weaker this season with Marouane Fellaini leaving the club in January and Ander Herrera leaving in the summer, neither of them being replaced, was going to be hard. However, it meant that the likes of Scott McTominay and Fred could play more football and Fred needed to play more football.

McTominay has excelled this season but Fred has had a stop-start period which has left many asking more questions of him in his second season at the club. The last thing I and many others want is another £50 million-plus player becoming a flop, however, it may show the poor recruitment, which has already been shown many times.

Paul Pogba gave a team talk in training in the past week, which dominated the newspapers ahead of this match. Whilst it was good reading this, it seems to have done nothing. Even Pogba was poor and for a player that won the FIFA World Cup just over a year ago, I would expect a lot more, even before mentioning his fee. He needs to do a lot more.

Jesse Lingard has had his peak and is on the decline. That may not be what is happening but I don’t see him doing much to change the scenario at the club.

Jesse Lingard played 74 minutes against Arsenal. Granted, he has scored four goals against the club during his career at United, however, this season, he has not been anything to write home about. Last season, he scored twice against Arsenal and the season before (2017/18) was his best season as a professional player, scoring 13 goals across the season.

Of late, Lingard has been a social media star, well not a star but you know what I mean. It seems that football has taken a back seat role in his life, something which should be a priority. With him acting the fool on social media, which he has the right to do if that is what floats his boat, with a lack of performance in tough matches, he’s a liability.

In order to provide United with the player they think they have, Lingard needs to really put the effort into his football. He had 24 touches of the ball against Arsenal, 19 completed passes, three fouls and was dribbled past once. In an attacking sense, Lingard provided nothing. That should result in him being benched and working harder to win his place back.

Daniel James is a great spark of pace an ability, however, United should not be relying on him to provide – the entire team should be getting stuck in. What happens this season is down to them at the end of the day!

Daniel James was a great signing for £15 million. It is also no coincidence that Solskjaer’s three summer signings are doing the most in matches and becoming stand out players in the squad. The Welsh winger has a lot of pace and ability and it was him that started the play in which United took the lead from against Arsenal.

James has scored three goals in seven Premier League appearances this season, a feat which took Alexis Sanchez 18 matches to reach in the season and a half he was at the club. In fact, James scored three goals in his first four league appearances this season, which literally pissed on the Chilean’s record at the club.

The one thing that should not happen with James is that the players wait for him to create something before getting involved. That may not be what is actually happening but it feels like it is. The likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard et al should be doing so much more. Lingard is a waste of a place in the team at this moment in time.

Marcus Rashford is going through another bad patch. Anthony Martial cannot return quick enough to get some pressure on the opposition. Mason Greenwood needs time to shine but to do that, he needs time on the pitch, not 15 minutes late in the game.

What can be done with Marcus Rashford? He has scored three goals for United this season, which may look great, however, two of his three goals were from the penalty spot. Despite him seemingly coming from nowhere three and a half years ago, at 21 he seems to be showing more frustrating signs that positive ones.

I think Rashford plays best in the wing roles. If he played alongside another striker, not Anthony Martial as both players are too similar, he might show signs of being a decent target man but right now, hope more than anything else, seems to be put on him performing. Rashford has achieved a lot at the tender age of 21 but there is so much more.

Allowing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to leave in the summer were the best decisions Solskjaer could have made. Lukaku didn’t want to be at the club and Sanchez was not performing. However, not bringing a striker in was a massive mistake. Mason Greenwood might turn into a good target man, but at his young age, reliance on him could be too much.

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About editor 2136 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.