Manchester United had two weeks to come up with a tactical plan to combat Liverpool and recover from their galling defeat against Newcastle.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did exactly that and Andreas Pereira was at the centre of it – as a hybrid of a false nine and a number ten – having been jettisoned on the right for much of the season.
Pereira’s decision making could do with work but his energy and enthusiasm hauled United forward from midfield.
How can he build on this performance and establish himself in his best position, in the hole?
Pereira’s best performance in a United shirt?
This was Pereira’s best performance of the season. He was on the front foot throughout, bustling into tackles and bursting forward with speed in a high-tempo United display.
One surging forward run he had saw him caught offside on the counter, an example of his inexperience and exuberance. With time to gel in the position, this is the type of mistake he won’t make.
Taking a step back, this was one of his best displays for the club, perhaps only bettered by his match winning performance and long range goal against Southampton last season.
Given how ponderous Juan Mata has been in that role in recent weeks, Pereira showed enough to prove he deserves a run of games in the number ten position.
Pereira created three chances against Liverpool. Mata failed to make any key passes against Alkmaar or Newcastle.
Jesse Lingard may be close to a return from injury, but he has had plenty of chances.
How can Pereira build on the performance?
The main drawback of Pereira’s performance was his decision making. It looked like he expended so much energy getting himself into dangerous positions that he lacked the composure to make the right call.
He shot more than once when he should have passed, and will need to show more quality if he wants to be seen as a viable Manchester United playmaker.
It’s very different when teams are sitting back against United, than when we are facing a more dangerous team like Liverpool. We will see that against Norwich this weekend. Does Pereira have the composure to unpick a tight defence?
Pereira needs to show that this display wasn’t just the exception to the rule, and reproduce a performance of similar gusto in less glamorous and passionate matches.
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