The game against Southampton couldn’t come quick enough after the defeat in Eindhoven and Luke Shaw’s injury. It was a joy to see Anthony Martial starting again, and with De Gea in goal we knew United would have a chance to get something out of this game.
After less than fifteen minutes we started thinking otherwise as first Graziano Pelle put Southampton ahead, then he hit the post soon after. United took their time to get into the game, but thankfully they did and equalised ten minutes before half-time. Though Mata was in an offside position to begin with, it was excellent to see Anthony Martial show so much poise before finishing.
Early in the second half Martial pounced onto a Yoshida backpass to put United into the lead, and minutes after Schweinsteiger replaced Carrick in midfield, the team provided the move of the match with the possession game at its best. Pass after pass after pass, after pass after pass after pass (45 in total without a Southampton player touching the ball) ended with another goal, this time from Juan ‘Hugs’ Mata.
We thought this could be an ‘easy’ win after all, but of course, we van never relax too much when United are playing, so they made sure that we were sitting on the edge of our seats for the last ten minutes, especially after Pelle pulled one back to make it 3-2. It was then backs to the wall for the last five minutes, and we’d probably have been lamenting more points dropped if it wasn’t for a couple of excellent De Gea saves as the clock ticked down.
When the final whistle went we were all happy and relieved at getting a good win at a place where not many will come away with three points (though United have won four and drew one in the last five games at St.Mary’s).
It was excellent to see Anthony Martial get another two goals under his belt and become a £35m bargain. Wait till he has a barren period, when he reverts to being a £58m waste of money.
At the same time it was sad to see our captain have another anonymous display, and we can only hope he hits form sooner rather than later (though he’ll probably never go back to his best unfortunately).
It was also a joy to see our Deutscher Fussball Meister come on and take control of midfield (apart from the last few minutes when Southampton were pressing for an equaliser).
Three days later United were in action again, this time at home to Ipswich in the 3rd round of the League Cup. Van Gaal named a strong side, making sure that there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s embarrassment, and though we’d have liked youngsters like James Wilson and Jesse Lingard to be given a chance, it was nice to see Andreas Pereira given a first competitive start. He repaid the manager’s faith in him by scoring an excellent free-kick to double United’s lead after Wayne Rooney had scored to put the side ahead. The icing on the cake was put on by substitute Anthony Martial, who got his fourth goal for the club in the last minute to make it 3-0 for United. They will now face Middlesboro in the next round. The best moment of the game though was when Schweinsteiger handed the captain’s armband to David de Gea, proving how he’s Louis van Gaal’s ‘mouthpiece’ on the pitch, and apart from solidifying our midfield, he’s also making sure that this side is really about being United.
In the other games in the league, Chelsea and Dirty Diego beat Arsenal 2-0 in the game of the weekend, where Wenger’s side had Gabriel and Cazorla sent off, while Mourinho’s side were lucky to not lose Costa to what would have been a much deserved red card. So much so that he’s been suspended for three games retrospectively; Autumn League winners Manchester City conceded their first goals of the season that resulted in their first defeat of the season when they lost 2-1 at home to West Ham; Brendan Rodgers’ ‘transitional’ L’pool continued to show how Luis Suarez was just hiding many of the manager’s shortcomings when he nearly helped them win the league two seasons ago as they drew 1-1 at home to Norwich; Ranieri’s Leicester are now the only side unbeaten in the division as they came back from another two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke; Swansea and Everton played out the only goalless draw of the weekend; Tottenham beat Pardew’s Palace 1-0 with a goal from a player that is quickly becoming their favourite Son; Sherwood’s Villa lost their midlands derby 1-0 against West Brom; and the two North-East teams keep propping up the table as both Newcastle and Sunderland lost to newly promoted teams (2-1 against Watford and 2-0 against Bournemouth respectively).
This all means that United climb up to second in the table, and although the team’s performances are still far from being good enough to win the league, this should give Van Gaal more leeway to instill his philoshophy on the players in his process to get the club back to the top.
In other United news, the aforementioned Wilson and Lingard both scored for the U21s on Monday evening in United’s 3-1 win against Everton.
We now look forward to another two games in the next week, both being played at Old Trafford. In the Premier League, United welcome bottom-club Sunderland on Saturday the 26th (3pm UK time), after which they face German side Wolfsburg on Wednesday the 30th for the second game of the Champions’ League group stage (7:45pm UK time). Here’s hoping for another two wins to keep us smiling… COME ON UNITED!!!