Manchester United beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Old Trafford in what could prove to be a pivotal win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
After three successive wins, Spurs came into the clash rejuvenated and in good form, whilst United had drawn back-to-back league matches against Sheffield United and Aston Villa.
Two goals from Marcus Rashford either side of a great Dele Alli goal was enough for the Red Devils to inflict a first defeat as Spurs boss on their former manager.
Here are the players that were instrumental in United’s victory.
There was a glaring hole in United’s midfield in the last two Premier League games. The return of McTominay would have given that dressing room a massive lift.
The young Scot has rapidly become indispensable this season and he dominated the centre of the park once again with a powerful and assured display.
McTominay is the all action midfielder that United needed in the draws against the Blades and Villa, keeping him fit is crucial to United’s chances of climbing the league.
In the second half, McTominay had the strength and composure in possession to hold off an on-rushing Harry Kane, which sent the Old Trafford faithful into raptures.
Solskjaer will hope that his young midfield general can inspire United again on Saturday in the Manchester Derby.
United’s iceman looked back to his cool, calm and collected self against a Tottenham attacking trio that were bang in form.
Solskjaer once again resisted the temptation of dropping Lindelöf in favour of academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe.
The Swede produced a battling and dominant performance that will do wonders for his confidence.
His positioning and ability to sniff out danger was prominent throughout the match and hopefully the victory proves to be the springboard to take the Lindelöf and Maguire partnership to the next level.
Maybe playing against the man who brought him to Manchester and criticised him earlier in the season focused Lindelöf and gave him a point to prove.
The 25-year-old will have to be at his best once again when he comes up against Pep Guardiola’s formidable forward line.
The £47m signing looked comfortable knowing he was reunited with his reliable and trusted midfield enforcer McTominay.
Just the sheer presence of the Scot is enough to relax and calm Fred down, which often results in positive performances for Solskjaer’s side.
In the opening stages of the match it was the Brazilian midfielder who was setting the tempo for the hosts.
He smashed into Jan Vertonghen with a crunching tackle and then glided past Heung-Min Son before spraying a penetrative pass out to Marcus Rashford.
It was clear that Fred was trying to break the Tottenham lines with positive forward passes. He registered a total of 21 accurate forward passes and that allowed United’s talented attack to get on the ball and have space to run into and attack.
What was so impressive about Fred’s tenacious performance was his desire to hassle, press and go and win the ball back for his team.
He finished the match with 11 ball recoveries, 3 interceptions and 2 clearances.
With Son looking to get a shot off in the penalty area, it was Fred who got a crucial block in and then celebrated his crucial intervention.
With Paul Pogba not too far away from a return, and McTominay and Fred’s partnership continuing to blossom, United could find themselves dominating the midfield battle on a regular basis.
It seems that the confident Lingard who can influence matches is making a return.
United’s number 14 created 4 chances against Spurs and was cannily finding pockets of spaces to turn and run at the visitors’ backline with regularity.
Andreas Pereira benefitted from the drop of in form Lingard was producing earlier in the season, but the goal against Astana has brought that swagger back to his play.
United’s front four in the absence of the injured Anthony Martial looked dangerous and Tottenham struggled to contain the pace, energy and quality our youngsters brought.
Lingard has wrestled back control of the attacking midfield position and Solskjaer should pick the same team against Manchester City and put their vulnerable defence under pressure.
Serge Aurier may have nightmares after his night’s work, Rashford was too good for the Ivory Coast international, he was getting twisted inside and out all evening.
United’s number 10 produced a performance which deserves to be labelled as world class and unplayable.
The 22-year-old is in frightening form and his confidence levels are sky high, it doesn’t matter how far out he is, or what angle he is taking a shot on from, he believes he can score from anywhere right now.
Every time he got a sight of goal, Paulo Gazzaniga was scrambling to keep the ball out of the back of the net.
There is real pace, power and purpose to Rashford every time he receives the ball, he is forcing teams to retreat and he looks menacing.
He is the go to man in this team and he is relishing the responsibility.
Marcus Rashford has been directly involved in 8 goals (7 goals and 1 assist) against ‘big six’ sides this season alone.
He will be targeting further contributions against Manchester City.
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