Five things we learned as Manchester United beat Colchester 3-0
Manchester United are into the Carabao Cup semi-finals after beating Colchester at Old Trafford.
A poor first half turned into a stroll in the second after three quick goals led a comfortable win.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scored United’s goals with an own goal inbetween.
Here are five things we learned from the quarter-final victory…
Front three limitations shown up early
The first half was dire. United’s most talented front three started, but nothing clicked.
Marcus Rashford tried to do too much himself at times, and when he’s having an off night, that really has a negative impact.
He still needs to develop a killer instinct, attempting five first half shots and getting only one on target. With better shooting, he could have wrapped this one up early.
Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood struggled to get on the ball as much as Rashford and were too easily kept quiet.
Some of this is on the midfield, but neither player are yet able to take a game over in the same way Rashford can. And when he’s not making the breakthrough, it all falls apart.
What was great was the response. Rashford was able to shake off the poor opening 45 and score just one minute into the second half.
Why couldn’t he have started the match like that?
Attacking midfield combination needed
While it was positive to see United play three forwards with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, the midfield behind them left a lot to be desired.
Against teams who will sit deep, United need a driving force. Nemanja Matic and Andreas Pereira was not a well suited combination.
Having Matic and Juan Mata in the same midfield slows the pace down and just does not work.
United’s opener only came when Colchester deviated from their defensive gameplan and we hit them on the counter.
United don’t have many midfield options, and this match highlights that this should be a top priority area for recruitment in January and next summer.
Williams may be being saved
United’s full-backs were not the ones we had predicted would start this evening.
We thought Diogo Dalot would be fit to return after comments from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of the game, and Brandon Williams may have been due a start at left-back.
Instead Ashley Young replaced a rested Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right, and Luke Shaw was back in at left-back after a disappointing performance against Everton.
This leads us to suggest that Williams is being rested to start the Premier League game with Watford on Sunday.
United have missed his attacking intent from the position and it would be the right call to bring him back in.
He came on for the final half hour for Luke Shaw, perhaps as a warm up for Sunday.
This is a competition United want to win
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set his stall out in the previous round by picking a strong side to knock Chelsea out.
There was no let up here, despite the temptation with a home tie against a League Two side.
Solskjaer picked £80 million centre-back Harry Maguire and our top three strikers. There is a great chance now to go and win some silverware.
A two-legged semi-final awaits against City before a potential trip to Wembley.
This is a great chance for a young squad and for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to lift his first piece of silverware as United manager.
Possible Tuanzebe injury could be troubling
Three minutes after a double change, United made another, bringing off Axel Tuanzebe.
Tuanzebe needs the minutes and it made more sense to bring off Harry Maguire and give him a rest with United 3-0 up at the time.
It seemed as though Tuanzebe was in some discomfort and he went straight down the tunnel. Let’s hope it turns out to be nothing.
Even if this was just a precaution, it is a worry ahead of a packed fixture schedule.
We could end up seeing more Phil Jones, and crossing our fingers Eric Bailly is available quickly.
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