Manchester United beat a 3-0 victory which illustrated a multifaceted attack that Aston Villa simply couldn’t handle.
Goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to their fifth consecutive Premier League victory.
In addition to giving Manchester United a boost in the quest for Champions League qualification, the victory over Villa has proven to be a clear sign that things will continue to improve in the long run.
In a season that was a two-half story, shows in the first half of the campaign saw United fall into disappointing defeats against the likes of Burnley and Watford. A lack of creativity in the future often found attackers out of possibility and there were clear signs that things had to be changed against the predominantly defensive sides.
However, the reboot performance in particular has been extraordinarily impressive and the victory over Villa has highlighted a key way in which things have improved significantly. All three of the goals scored on Thursday night were different types of milestones, which shows how Solskjaer̵
Ezri Konsa and his Villa teammates will feel difficult because of a penalty imposed on them, but the fact is that Fernandes has proven to be the creator of the difference once again in the last third. His advantage in the penalty area showed that the midfielder has the ability to make things happen in attacking areas that had often been the missing link before he arrived.
It would be fair to say that the introduction of Fernandes in January was a major turning point not only in the United States season, but in their hopes of challenging Liverpool and Manchester City in the coming years.
The variety provided through the Portuguese midfielder has removed some of the pressure from the attackers in front of him and allows them to thrive in the third final rather than having to create opportunities for themselves.
This was the case with United’s second game when Greenwood finished well beyond Pepe Reina, but the move initially started with Fernandes’ move to the young man. Rapid counter-attack action is different from how Fernandes won a penalty early on his team, but he showed how Solskjaer’s team is becoming a more balanced threat on offense.
Many of the issues prior to United’s return to form were due to a lack of creativity and unpredictability in breaking through the low sides, but those problems were not present against Villa – just as they had not been against Bournemouth, Brighton, Norwich and Sheffield United.
Pogba’s third to score all three points reinforced this vision and showed why it is important to have an objective contribution on the pitch. This type of variety makes the defense of the opposition much more difficult and takes pressure away from the attackers.
Similar artists such as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James had all been key elements of United’s attack at the start of the season with the strengths of the counterattack. This has proven effective against Manchester City and other possession-based teams, but the further threat from Fernandes, Pogba and others makes this current US team a far more dangerous prospect.
With only one point separating them from the top four, it would be difficult to bet against Solskjaer’s team with a constantly improving attacking line.