Manchester United beat Luton 3-0 to progress into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the win at Kenilworth Road…
A narrow win reliant mainly on a first half penalty from Juan Mata, this was not a game which will make many United players’ highlight reels.
At time it was very laboured, with United wrapping it up in the 88th minute via Marcus Rashford, before Mason Greenwood scored in injury time.
3-0 was a scoreline which flattered United, but the late goals were good to see.
Nonetheless, a win is a win and United are into the next round. This was a banana skin avoided, and briefly lifts some of the negativity around the club.
This will lift the players’ confidence ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixture at Brighton, which has already become a must win.
Lack of width painful at times
It feels at this point as though United fans are banging their collective heads against a brick wall. This team needs wingers.
Donny van de Beek started centrally with Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard on either side.
All three players essentially want to play the same central role. None of them played badly, but they just did not offer the width needed.
Neither Mata or Lingard possess the attributes required of a winger to beat a man and whip in a cross.
This in turn left full-backs Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka without opportunities to overlap, and when the pair did get the ball in wide areas, they were isolated.
United need to fix this, and even if one winger is brought in before the transfer deadline, he alone will not be enough to solve a position which has been largely ignored by the club for far too long.
Van de Beek quality clear
It has been a major source of frustration that United have bought only one first team player this summer.
The only consolation is that the one player we did sign, Donny van de Beek, looks like a fantastic player.
Early evidence suggests the £39 million fee was money well spent to acquire the Dutchman.
On and off the ball he is a class act, with clever touches to encourage one-twos with teammates, and runs into space to get into danger areas and create space for his teammates.
As he settles in and his teammates learn more about his game and what to expect, it is already looking encouraging that the new signing will be a top asset.
Eric Bailly steps up
Qualifier; it was only Luton. But Manchester United needed to see a confident centre-back performance. Thankfully Eric Bailly provided it.
After Victor Lindelof’s hapless performance against Crystal Palace, Bailly was given a chance to establish a partnership with Harry Maguire.
The pair worked well together and Bailly was commanding, and did well to cut out crosses which came his way.
He saved United late on too, clearing a ball off the line after a goalmouth scramble.
This was what we wanted to see, and its also noteworthy he came through the game without an injury.
Bailly has now become a must-start this weekend against Brighton.
This was a momentous night for Dean Henderson as he made his competitive debut for Manchester United.
He could hardly have asked for an easier night, with United’s defence standing strong and making Henderson a spectator for most of the game.
When he was finally called into action in the 80th minute he pulled off a fantastic one-handed save from close range.
As a goalkeeper for United you need strong concentration levels and Henderson showed he is ready.
He will feel as though he earned this clean sheet as a result and Henderson will be pleased to have come through this game, and looking forward to the next one, whenever that may be.
- Watford fans are raving about United loanee James Garner
- Ryan Giggs says Cavani is the signing United have been ‘crying out for’
- Wan-Bissaka determined to represent England at international level
- Three questions for Solskjaer ahead of facing Chelsea
- Tuanzebe’s comments show he ‘gets it’ as a Manchester United player
- Five reasons United’s latest win over PSG was better than 2019 victory
- Scott McTominay has proven himself all over again
- Solskjaer may have found his 2020/21 Mason Greenwood
- Can United take Luke Shaw’s adaptability a step further?