The tumultuous nature of Manchester United’s fortunes since 2013 continued in 2019 with an up and down year which savagely turned from the greatest of moments to the most humiliating. United In Focus look at the three best moments of the year for Manchester United in 2019.

Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United

January 25th – FA Cup 4th Round
Goals: Sanchez 31′, Lingard 33′, Martial 82′

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had arrived at United in mid-December and masterminded a run of seven consecutive wins before this match. Coming in the FA Cup, after a simple match against Reading in the Third Round, this was the second ‘big’ game of the Solskjaer-era. Fans and pundits alike were concerned by Solskjaer’s ability to tactically out-think managers of the ilk of Mauricio Pochettino and Unai Emery.

At Wembley in early January, Solskjaer had been helped to a 1-0 win against Spurs with a Marcus Rashford strike. Fastforward two weeks to the Emirates and the doubts remained. On this day, two goals in quick succession from Sanchez and Lingard sent the ~5000 travelling United fans into uncontrollable celebrations. United held out, made the right substitutions and regained a two-goal lead in the second half through Martial.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Alexis Sanchez of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal with Jesse Lingard during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 25, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.
(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

As United’s support left the stadium and the concourse, it was reminiscent of being at the same spot in 2013. In that year, United had received a guard of honour and were celebrating a Premier League title. Scarves were waved, banners unfurled and United’s support stayed singing outside the away end for at least an hour. The same was true in the January night-time dark of 2019 and it was one of the great peaks of Solskjaer’s purple patch. The Reds would go on to beat Chelsea in the next round, too.

WAYNE ROONEY TO EVERTON IS A JOKE.

PSG 1-3 Manchester United

March 6th – UEFA Champions League Round of 16
Goals: Lukaku 2′, 30′, Rashford 94′

One of the great European nights in Manchester United’s long history. Not of the same importance as Roy Keane’s monstrous performance in Turin in ’99 or of historic nights at Wembley, Nou Camp or the Luzhkinsi Stadium. But it was special.

The pressure of Romelu Lukaku earned United an early lead in what looked like an insurmountable task in Paris. Another effort on the half-hour mark saw another mistake from Gianluigi Buffon and United were in with a chance, leading 2-1. Extra time was out of the question, but a third for United and they’d be heading through, quite unbelievably.

Angel Gomes #47 and David De Gea #1 of Manchester United (MAN-U) celebrate the win of the 8th final of the Champions league's match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester United (MAN U) at Parc des Princes Stadium on March 06, 2019 in Paris, France.
(Photo by Julien Mattia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With 17-year-old Mason Greenwood on the pitch alongside Tahith Chong, Diogo Dalot, Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay, United’s team was structured around academy graduates and young players. So when Dalot’s strike earned United a penalty in added time, thanks to VAR, it was only right for Marcus Rashford to take it.

And how he took it. With power and incredible composure. Rashford had waited minutes to step up to the penalty spot as VAR pondered, Buffon protested and PSG’s fans and players cried out in anguish. He hit home, sprinted into United’s support and those moments of celebrations have provided pictures that will live long in the memory. Even though it didn’t lead to a trophy, this was undoubtedly one of the club’s best moments since Ferguson’s retirement.

Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United

December 7th – Premier League
Goals: Rashford 23′, Martial 29′

The most recent on the list and the best moment of United’s season so far. This was a win to defy expectations. Not only that, but the performance was seriously good. Unlike in many of United’s victories since August, this involved a good set-up, the right levels of commitment and aggression and a counter-attacking forward line that performed their duties to perfection.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Harry Maguire and Daniel James of Manchester United celebrate following their sides victory during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Two goals in 10 minutes from Rashford and Martial were quite unbelievable for the United fans watching. It was tense for the remaining hour but United defended well, particularly Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Whether this was or was not a turning point is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. It will be remembered as a great day at the home of the noisy neighbours for a long time.

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