Manchester United go into the international break on a high after beating Brighton 3-1 to move up to seventh in the Premier League table.
Andreas Pereira broke the deadlock in the 17th minute with a deflected strike, before the hosts doubled their lead through a Davy Propper own goal after a long VAR check and went into half-time 2-0 up.
Brighton captain Lewis Dunk reduced the deficit with a header off a corner, but Marcus Rashford responded two minutes later, which gave United that freedom to express themselves.
Brighton goalkeeper Matt Ryan was called into action on several occasions as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side put on an attacking clinic.
Here are at look at five things we learned as Manchester United made it five wins from the last six games.
Williams in possession of left-back spot
With Ashley Young suspended, Brandon Williams was finally given his first Premier League start and yet again it was a test that the youngster passed with flying colours.
The 19-year-old added Neal Maupay to his list alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi for players to be given a helping hand into the advertising boards.
He could have rounded off his first start with a goal, but he was thwarted by Ryan with a smart near post save.
Williams has really endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful and there is no better sight at the football club then seeing an academy graduate thriving on the big stage.
One of the loudest cheers of the day came in the 58th minute when Williams showed his fighting spirit to win a throw in off Dunk, in a situation which looked a lost cause, the fans love his sheer effort and desire.
The left-back bombed up and down the line, he was composed in possession and was sharp and strong in the tackle.
He finished the match with an 88% pass completion rate and won 4/5 tackles.
Williams was given a standing ovation when replaced by Marcos Rojo in injury time.
Solskjaer has to make a statement and start Williams against Sheffield United in the first game after the international break to show he is now his first choice left-back.
After a disappointing performance against Bournemouth, Pereira was given the opportunity by Solskjaer to impress. It was his 9th consecutive start in the league.
He gave United the lead on his 50th performance for the club and the goal gave him real confidence to test Ryan from range on a number of occasions.
The worry for the Brazilian will be with the growing emergence of the Fred and Scott McTominay partnership, a return from injury for Paul Pogba could see him lose his place in the side.
Pereira’s goal meant he became the fifth United player to score a Premier League goal this season.
With Pogba still not any closer to a return, United’s next two games are against two promoted sides, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, if Pereira retains the number 10 spot, he will have to step it up further and improve his decision making.
First goal crucial
The opening goal in United’s matches has a big indicator on how the game will pan out.
If the opposition take the lead, Solskjaer’s side struggle to get themselves back into games due to teams sitting back in a compact shape and not offering the space for us to utilise our specialised and reliant counter attack.
We don’t have the creativity at our disposal to carve out big chances
However, on occasions where United take an early lead it forces teams to become more adventurous and change their game plan.
Even when Brighton pulled a goal back, the visitors still had to commit more men forward, which played into United’s hands and allowed our pacey attackers to get at their defenders one v one and create chances at will.
Until United sign a creative midfielder, this will be a recurring theme in our matches.
Daniel James has to start
Every time James got into his blistering stride, you knew Brighton were in trouble.
The Welshman just keeps on getting better and better, he has pace, work rate, good control and his final balls are becoming more accurate with every passing game.
His final ball and crossing ability has already improved and it is forcing defenders into committing, they know they cannot afford to stand off, so they run the risk off entering a drag race with United’s speedster.
Mason Greenwood impressed against Partizan alongside Martial and Rashford, but James is simply too important to this United side right now to be put on the bench.
James could have had numerous assists on Sunday, and Rashford somehow managed to miss an absolute sitter after a James cut back.
The combination and understanding with Martial and Rashford will only get stronger, throw in Pogba at number 10, United could have a formidable front four.
Patience with Fred paying off
United’s number 17 is finally showing signs why Manchester United forked out £47m to sign him.
His performance against Brighton was arguably one of his best since coming to Manchester, he was full of energy, brought a zip into United’s passing and was shifting the ball forward early and putting Brighton on the backfoot.
Fred produced the perfect box-to-box display, pinching possession of the visitors and then driving his team forward.
The Brazilian deserved a goal and he tested Ryan with an absolute piledriver in the second half.
Hopefully he continues the positive momentum after the international break and his partnership with McTominay continues to grow.
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