Manchester United put out the youngest starting XI of the Premier League season and duly dominated against Brighton & Hove Albion at home.
The whole of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team impressed but three players stood out in particular.
It’s difficult not to feel for defenders who come up against Dan James. His pace is so threatening and so difficult to deal with.
Brighton manager Graham Potter admitted as much in his post-match press conference. He was asked about Brighton’s four yellow cards in the first half.
“The speed of the game, the speed of the attacking players on the pitch for Manchester United [caused that],” Potter told Sky Sports.
“You mistime a challenge and it doesn’t look so good. James and Martial and Rashford, when they nick the ball away from you, you can mistime it.”
James is the key forward in that list. Martial and Rashford are better all-round players but James is a £15m bargain.
It is his endeavour and pace that has impressed fans so far but this was another game where his decision-making was excellent. He’s doing more than anyone expected in every department.
The 19-year-old left-back was superb on his first Premier League start. He’s been very good in Europa League games but this was a level up. Williams was subbed off in the closing stages of the game and Old Trafford rose to its feet to applaud the English youngster.
Williams’ reading of the game was particularly pleasing. He made three tackles but there were at least three occasions where he stepped in front of the attacker to intercept rather than needing a tackle.
That’s a positive sign for the future. As a counter-attacking side, Williams is a far better option than Young or Shaw. He steps forward quickly when United regain possession and dribbles with intent.
After more than a season at United, Fred is growing as a midfielder. He’s still not the £52million man that fans were promised, but his latest string of performances have been good.
A powerful pass into Martial’s feet split Brighton’s midfield and defensive lines and opened up the space for United’s first goal. Martial and Pereira combined, as well as the shoulder of Dale Stephens, to get it into the back of the net.
On two occasions, Fred showed good composure and confidence to beat a man with quick feet. That’s not something that’s been on show before. He’s still got some weaknesses to his game and his passing must be more consistent and reliable. But Sunday’s performance was another good one where he dictated the game from the middle.
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