Manchester United scored a 3-0 win that illustrated a multi-faceted attack that Aston Villa simply couldn’t handle.
Goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to a fifth consecutive win in the Premier League.
Apart from giving Manchester United a boost in the search for Champions League qualification, the win against Villa was also a clear sign that things will continue to improve in the long term.
In a two-half season, United fell disappointing losses to Burnley and Watford in the first half of the season. A lack of creativity in the future often meant that attackers had no chance and there were clear signs that things had to be changed against mostly defensive sides.
However, the performance since the restart has been particularly impressive, and the win over Villa has shown that things have improved significantly. All three goals scored on Thursday night were separate hits, indicating that Solskjaer̵
Ezri Konsa and his teammates from Villa will have a hard time getting a penalty, but the fact is that Fernandes has proven to be the differentiator again in the last third. His lead in the penalty area showed that the midfielder had the ability to make a difference in attack areas that were often the missing link before he arrived.
It can rightly be said that the launch of Fernandes in January was not only a crucial turning point in the United season, but also the hope of challenging Liverpool and Manchester City in the coming years.
The variety that the Portuguese midfielder offers has relieved the striker before him a bit and allows them to thrive in the last third instead of having to open up opportunities for themselves.
This was the case for United’s second game when Greenwood lagged far behind Pepe Reina – but the move had originally started through Fernandes’ pass to the youngster. A quick counterattack was different from the way Fernandes had previously won his team with a penalty, but proved that Solskjaer’s team would become a more balanced threat in attack.
Many of the problems before United’s upswing were due to lack of creativity and unpredictability in dismantling low-block pages, but these problems didn’t exist against Villa – just like against Bournemouth, Brighton, Norwich and Sheffield United.
Pogba’s third, who sealed all three points, reinforced this view and showed why it is important to have goal contributions across the pitch. This kind of variety makes it very difficult for the opposition to defend itself and relieves the strikers.
People like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Daniel James had been key components of United’s attack earlier in the season, with strong counter-attacks. This has proven effective against Manchester City and other ball possession teams, but the additional threat from Fernandes, Pogba and others makes this current United team a far more dangerous prospect.
With just one point separating them from the first four, it would be difficult to bet against Solskjaer’s team with an ever better line of attack.