Manchester United produced another comeback that has been synonymous with our season to win 2-1 against Brighton at Old Trafford on Sunday evening. The first ten minutes of the game saw playing some good football. Marcus Rashford threaten to score before Mason Greenwood’s effort hit the post. However, things changed when former United player Danny Welbeck scored for Brighton in the 13th minute.
From then onwards, we lacked any rhythm as we tried the find the equaliser. We had lots of possession of the ball. However, we seemed to run of ideas when we reached the final third of the opposition box. Our passing was very erratic. The Brighton defence stood firm as United could not break down their resilience.
The second half saw us improved as Bruno Fernandes race onto a mistake by Joel Veltman to set up Marcus Rashford who curled the ball home into the corner of the net. We continued our dominance as we pushed more players forward. The result paid off as Mason Greenwood capitialise on Paul Pogba’s scuffed shot as he headed home to secure the win.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the game.
1. Greenwood saves the day
You could say that throughout this Premier League season, United has had to rely on big moments from their players to turn around games that we might not have necessarily won. A number of times we have been 1-0 down and found the ability to recover from it. It seems that United is getting used to this habit.
After a dire performance from the Red Devils in the first half, it was the case that we turned up in the second half and started to play better. We responded through Rashford who leveled the game.
Once we had the equaliser, we started to press the advantage. It was in the final ten minutes that Mason Greenwood came up with the winning goal. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said after the game about the goal, “When he gets those goals, we know that he’s going to add another dimension to his game. I’m very, very pleased.”
Greenwood’s role in the team may increase over the next month or so as Anthony Martial is potentially out for the rest of the season. Though he has not hit the heights he did last season, he could play an important part in us securing second place and possibly winning the Europa League.
2. United need to be more clinical in the early stages of games
For the first ten minutes of the games, United was playing well as we had possession of the ball and had threatened the Brighton goal. Mason Greenwood came close as his effort hit the base of the post before going away from the goal. Brighton then started to put the pressure back onto us. Their first attack reaped its rewards as Danny Welbeck’s fired in the rebound after Dean Henderson had superbly saved his header.
The goal we had conceded have been similar to the ones we have done all season. It still shows we still have some weaknesses in our defence. Both Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were at fault for the goal. Lindelof is poor with his aerial duels as he failed to cut out the cross but also Wan-Bissaka failed to track Danny Welbeck at the far post who got in between both defenders to score the goal.
United has to be more clinically in the early stages of games. We cannot afford to keep going behind and then having to react to get back into the game.
3. Rashford answers the call again
Before the game, Solskjær had defended his use of Marcus Rashford as some had felt he needed a rest giving the exertion of the season. He pulled out of England duty during the international break through injury but came back into the side for the Brighton game. Since Solskjær arrived at United, Rashford has been an important figure in the team and this has seen his workload increase massively.
Rashford is repaying the faith that has been shown in him. He was the one who got the important equaliser for us. His goal meant he had reached double figures in the Premier League as it was his 10th strike of the campaign. Rashford has 19 goals across all competitions so far this season. United still has plenty to play for the remainder of the season as we looked to secure second place, win the Europa League. Rashford will play a key role in this.
Our attacking unit is not where it should be at the moment. Rashford has probably been the best forward player this season when being compared against Cavani, Martial, and Greenwood.
4. Henderson starts over De Gea
The question that was being asked before the game against Brighton was who was going to start in the goal. Solskjær gave Dean Henderson the nod over David De Gea though he did say in his pre-match interview not to read too much into it as we have two number one goalkeepers.
The England stopper has started the previous six games and had impressed. He showed little nerves in the game against Brighton as he looked to command his area. Henderson made a great reflex save to stop Danny Welbeck’s header but the former United player reacted quickly to put the rebound into the goal. He also tipped the ball over the goal from Lewis Dunk’s header as Brighton put pressure on us in the first half.
In the context of the game, Henderson had a quiet night overall. Solskjær decision to start him was neither the wrong nor right one. Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport “Solskjaer is paid to make the decisions. Henderson has been waiting for this opportunity. Can he live up to the hype? I’m looking forward to seeing it.”
It will be interesting to see who Solskjær starts on Thursday against Granada in the Europa League. If it is Henderson, then David De Gea will know his time at United is coming to an end. As we come into the final stretch of the season, all eyes will be on both goalkeepers as to what will happen next.
5. A big win in the context of Champions League qualification
If United had not beaten Brighton, it would have been seen as a missed opportunity to cement second place and pulled away from those who are also chasing a top-four place. United deserves praise for their ability to fight their way back in when going behind in games. With the victory over Brighton, we are now four points ahead of third-place Leicester City.
We are also nine and eleven points in front of fourth-place Chelsea and fifth place Tottenham respectively. Qualification for the Champions League is looking more likely and a win against Spurs at the weekend could cement this further.