Manchester United under-23s capitalised on a one-man advantage to see off a decent Arsenal side in Premier League 2.

Harvey Neville put the Reds in front in the first half before Joe Hugill and Shola Shoretire added to the tally in the second.

United’s three best players on the night were…

Alvaro Fernandez

The attacking contribution of Fernandez has been a major part of United’s quality going forward this season. Friday night was no different. Fernandez has enough speed and power to threaten down the flank but it’s his decision-making that impresses most. He knows when to cross early and when to pause and think and allow the runners to get into the area. It’s an important quality.

Fernandez assisted Joe Hugill’s 10th goal in 13 Premier League 2 games and the Spaniard should have seen more of his crosses converted by teammates.

LEIGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Alvaro Fernandez of Manchester United U23s in action during the Premier League 2 match between Manchester United U23s and Arsenal U23s at Leigh Sports Village on February 12, 2021 in Leigh, England. best players
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Shola Shoretire

Shoretire controlled the game for United in the absence of his partners of the last fortnight: Hannibal Mejbri and Amad Diallo. Amad missed the game through illness while Hannibal played only 22 minutes before an arm injury forced him off.

 

Even without their space-creating presence, Shoretire was excellent in a roaming role. His name has been in the headlines throughout the last two weeks because of a first professional contract, an under-23s hat-trick and news of training with the first team. In the spotlight, Shoretire continued to play his game. He’s quick to play through-balls forward whenever the runs are being made and moves well himself in and around the box.

LEIGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Shola Shoretire of Manchester United U23s in action during the Premier League 2 match between Manchester United U23s and Arsenal U23s at Leigh Sports Village on February 12, 2021 in Leigh, England. best players
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Both of United’s first two goals involved Shoretire. The first saw Shoretire feed Hugill and the ex-Sunderland striker assist Harvey Neville. In the second, Shoretire set up Fernandez to create the chance for Hugill. That’s the role Shoretire plays.

As space opened up in the second half, Shoretire dribbled more, earning an 88th-minute penalty which he finished himself. It was superbly-taken, tucking into the bottom right corner.

Ethan Galbraith

It’s been a while since Galbraith has stood out positively for United. The Northern Irish midfielder enjoyed a stellar first half to the season but has had a quiet spell while filling in at the back. His defensive qualities have been tested and sometimes exposed.

On Friday night, Galbraith began in defence before injury to Hannibal saw him move up into midfield. In defence, his passing quality allowed United to create chances over the high Arsenal defence. That created a chance for Hannibal with which he won an eighth-minute penalty for United.

Once the Frenchman left the pitch, Galbraith’s presence in midfield helped. He passed forward well, consistently offered an outlet for his teammates and is always strong in the tackle.

Have something to tell us about this article?