Manchester United were unfortunate not to beat Leicester City in an entertaining Boxing Day fixture in the Premier League. The Reds had enough chances to finish the Foxes off but succumbed to a late, deflected equaliser from Brendan Rodgers’ side.
There was plenty to take away for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the 2-2 draw.
Solskjaer will be frustrated by missed chances
A simple header for Marcus Rashford defined the early stages of the game. Last week, we considered the possibility that United are reliant on converting those early chances. The small positive to Rashford’s missed chance is that United didn’t then fall behind to Leicester but instead continued attacking and took the lead. However, United have to finish their chances better.
Rashford had the early header and the 60th-minute one-on-one with Schmeichel (see below for more). Fernandes and Maguire both sent headers over the bar and there were plenty of counter-attacks which fizzled out too.
To beat the very best in the division, and that includes Leicester, United have to take more of their chances. United should have won this game and their failure to do so is good news for Liverpool.
Manchester United entertainers away from home
There have been three goals or more in United’s last seven away games. This is an entertaining team away from home. At Old Trafford, that isn’t always the case. It’s a matter worth considering, though. It’s one of Solskjaer’s most important achievements: making United fun to watch again.
The Reds sit third in the league for now, behind Leicester by a point with a game-in-hand. It ends a run of 10 consecutive Premier League victories away. These were two good teams who often cancelled out each other, and so it’s not a bad point.
Magnificent Bruno is everything for Manchester United
How do you stop Bruno Fernandes? Nobody knows. The Portuguese is contributing goals and assists at a rate only equivalent to that of the machine-like qualities of Lewandowski, Ronaldo and Messi.
Fernandes has scored or assisted on 31 occasions in his 28 Premier League appearances.
Shakespeare would struggle to find the words to sum up the impact of Fernandes on this United side. He is a magnificent player.
Rashford shows his best finishing technique – but only once
Forget Rashford’s missed headed chance that opened the game for a second. Focus instead on the two one-on-ones which summed up his performance against Leicester. Rashford has scored again, and his record is five goals in the last nine games, as well as two assists. It’s a decent one.
His goal was an excellent finish, combined with good anticipation as Bruno Fernandes stuck a leg out to poke it towards his teammate. Rashford aimed for the bottom corner and found it, wrapping the inside of his boot around the ball.
When he was played through on the hour-mark, the technique was different. Schmeichel stood tall and Rashford, instead of wrapping his foot around the ball, went for power with his laces. It was a fantastic save from Schmeichel and Rashford’s effort would have beaten a ‘keeper of lesser quality. Nevertheless, the technique seen earlier in the game would have had a better chance of beating the Dane.
A great Twitter thread by @UtdArena outlined the difference of Rashford’s technique. The more he attempts the composed, foot-around-the-ball technique over the laces, the more frequently he’ll beat the ‘keeper in those one-on-one situations.
Give it, give it, give it to Edi Cavani
It took three-and-a-half minutes for Edinson Cavani to poke the ball through for Fernandes. Like the man he set up, Cavani’s impact has been even greater than anyone could have expected. The Uruguayan couldn’t provide the last-minute heroics of Southampton, but he did provide yet another moment of quality.
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