It was a dominant second half for Manchester United as they saw off Watford at Old Trafford. Bruno Fernandes shone and netted his first goal for the club, a penalty struck just before half-time.
Two other players stood out as well in an important win that takes United three points off fourth spot in the Premier League.
Though Fernandes opened his goalscoring account for the club, that’s not where his biggest impact has been so far. The January signing has settled in excellently after a £46million move from Sporting Lisbon.
He adds so much to this United side and this was his best performance so far. When Fernandes came off the bench in Bruges, Belgium on Thursday night, he upped the pace of the game for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
As Man of the Match against Watford, he was at the centre of everything for United. He won the ball back well, held off his opponents to keep possession, dictated the tempo of the game and added so much creativity. Fernandes has the quality and vision to open up the pitch and create chances. Martial and Greenwood benefitted from that. With a goal and assist, Fernandes was superb.
Shaw has received a lot of praise for how he’s played alongside Brandon Williams in a back five recently. This time he was without his younger sidekick and still looked good.
It’s in defence where he’s really coming into his own. Back in December, there were too many mistakes in his game but they’ve been cut out. Now it’s Shaw whose saving the blushes of his teammates. He did so in the third minute when Maguire and Matic made a mess at the back. Then again throughout the game, cleaning up as he came in centrally to help out the centre-backs.
Shaw made eight recoveries, five clearances, four tackles and three interceptions in an excellent display. And there were a couple of driving runs on top of that.
This wasn’t a game where Fred’s defensive contributions were as evident as usual. Against Chelsea, the Brazilian was lauded for his interceptions, reading of the game and dribbling. With Watford a lesser side than their London counterparts, Fred went under the radar a bit on Sunday afternoon.
But it was another impressive showing. He’s got a great ability to stay up just long enough to pass the ball successfully as he’s being hounded down by an opposition press.
His ability to keep the ball has improved and he, like Shaw and Fernandes, offered United an outlet with a few runs bursting forward. His finishing needs to improve and Fred missed a great chance just four minutes before Fernandes’ penalty goal.
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