Hi I’m Masa United.
22-23 Premier League Matchday 4. United faced Southampton (Saints) away at St Mary’s Stadium. United dominated the ball in the first half, and in the 20th minute Elanga, Bruno and Eriksen had back-to-back chances to score, but couldn’t score. Trailing 0-0 heading into the second half. In the 55th minute, Bruno scored a direct shot from Dalot’s cross to give United the lead. But then Southampton took the lead with a sharp start and organised football, attacking United. United managed to escape by bringing on Ronaldo in the 68th minute and new signing Casemiro in the 80th minute. We won 1-0.
*Click here for match highlights
This time, I will summarize the challenges in each section that we saw in this game. Despite scoring three points, the match against Saints was a very difficult one. It was a match that made us keenly aware of the need to overcome each of these issues and improve our performance.
The following items are included.
(1) Defender & Goalkeeper
In official matches, the United defence against the Saints recorded their first clean sheet in five games since last season’s matchday 35 against Brentford. The backline was similar to the line-up against Liverpool in the previous match, but the Saints dealt with the opponents’ attacks with great concentration. Led by Martinez, who has been active in MOTM for two consecutive matches, Varane defended calmly. Malasia recorded the most tackles, presses and interceptions. And Dalot’s back four, who assisted on a goal worth a few dollars, have already shown a quality that surpasses last season’s in terms of unitarian coordination. As for these four backs, Martinez’s early fit is still key. Although his small height of 175 cm was regarded as uneasy for a CB, his aerial victory rate was 82% of the Premier League top. He has shown a very impressive performance in the type of CB that has never been seen before at United with a hard hit, wide coverage, excellent crisis detection ability, precision passing and a hot fighting spirit. He also has a good chemistry with Varane, who is a CB duo, and it seems that these two will be the first choice for the time being. In particular, Varane, Martinez and De Gea may be one of the reasons for their success because they can communicate in Spanish.Embed from Getty Images
One of the challenges for the defense team is the height of the back line. Rather than being the fault of the four backlines, it was largely due to De Gea’s narrow defensive range and the pressing from the front, but both against Liverpool and Saints, the backline was considerably lower, especially in the second half, as they were forced to play poorly. Tactically, the last two races have also had a weaker possession colour, so we have less time to improve our line. Normally, Ten Hag’s ideal would be to hold the ball longer and push the whole team up. Against the Saints, the possession rate was 60% in the first half and now 40% in the second half. And De Gea tactically doesn’t fit Ten Hag’s style. If you’re serious about your possession style this season, I think reinforcement of keepers is essential.
One of the challenges is also the position of Maguire, Shaw and Wan- Bissaka, who have been forced to move to the back upper after being instigated by the four backs who have been very successful. Coach Ten Hag made the bold decision to drop captain Maguire from the starting lineup. Maguire needs a boost ahead. As for the show, I think it’s a matter of condition, but it may not be easy to regain the position because the new signing Malacia is putting in a great performance. Wan-Bisaka may be transferred to the Palace. Wan-Bissaka is not very addicted to the director, but if it comes to release, Dalot’s back-upper problem will arise. There are few transfer markets left, but it is a position that has the potential to be acquired. In any case, the back upper also needs to level up. Maguire in particular, Shaw has the World Cup coming up, so he can’t afford to smoulder. You need to show in training where you can contribute to the team.Embed from Getty Images
Midway through the game against the Saints, Eriksen and McTominay faced a double DMF under Bruno’s lead. Casemiro, who joined the club before the Liverpool game and was expected to start the match, came on in the 80th minute against the Saints. The combination of Bruno, Eriksen and McTominay, who can work hard offensively and defensively, was not bad, and Bruno, who scored the goal, was the center of the attack in the first half. However, it is not so much that either Eriksen or Bruno are 100% capable of their abilities, and the midfield combination will still have to try other options. What is expected is the new addition of Casemiro. Against the Saints, he showed a sharp tackle in a short period of time and played a role in ending the game.Embed from Getty Images
It is hoped that Casemiro’s role as an anchor and a filter in midfield will further demonstrate the best of Bruno and Eriksen, but the combination of Casemiro, Fred, McTominay and van de Beek could create new synergies. Systematically, I think it will be possible to use 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 effectively depending on the opponent. I feel like it’s better to use Casemiro with a 4-2-3-1 double DMF until possession stabilizes. The low center of gravity against the Saints is not what the coach idealizes, but in any game against a Premier League team, they can be pushed into any match. The key to how to maintain team balance will also be the composition of the midfield.
The addition of Casemiro is expected to improve the intensity and ball recovery abilities of midfield, but on the other hand, McTominay and Fred, who have supported the midfield over the past two seasons, will drop out of the starting lineup. Although they have contributed to big games at times with their fierce defence and have been criticized at times for their poor quality, they will contribute to the team this season, mainly as a back-upper. However, there is no doubt that he is a talent that I want to be in the team, and I think it would be easier for both of them to narrow down their roles as subs and go into the game than to be highly demanded offensively and defensively. Fred, in particular, can be expected to work with Casemiro and Bruno, and Fred will play an important role in the match that puts Eriksen to rest. The midfield, which has suddenly increased its options with the addition of Casemiro, is also a highlight of United’s attention this season.Embed from Getty Images
The forwards against the Saints were Rashford at the top and Sancho and Elanga on both wings. Martial, who returned from injury in the second half of the game against Liverpool, will be out again with an Achilles tendon injury. I would have liked to have played Martial and Rashford on the left wing and Sancho on the right, but I gave up this time.
Forward is currently the most challenging section. First, the striker issue. The No. 9 players are Martial, Ronaldo and Rashford, but no player can be trusted 100% at the moment. In addition to the departure issue, Ronaldo is far from a 100% fit mentally and conditionally, and Rashford, who scored against Liverpool, has yet to make an effective number nine. Martial is the most likely player, but it remains to be seen how much he can do in the official matches. It looks like he won’t be able to get around to bolstering the striker, but then it will be Rashford who will hold the key. Some reports say that he also wants to play at No. 9, but it is quite tough to not be able to move to outwit a defender in the box in a situation like against Saints where there is no space. Personally, I think Rashford is essentially a striker type, but I think there are a lot of challenges before we can work effectively.Embed from Getty Images
And as for the wings, the lack of quality and the thinness of the layers against the Saints were exposed. Unlike the Saints game against Liverpool, Sancho and Elanga swapped positions, but while Elanga recorded a team-high five SCA and came close to scoring in the first half, Sancho was less of a presence until he left the pitch in the 68th minute. In pre-season, the right triangle of Sancho, Dalot, and McTominay was working, so the intention of using Sancho on the left was unclear. Elanga moved better than the left, but there was no denying the lack of quality, and even if Rashford is considered a wing, the wing problem needs to be leveraged urgently. However, as of 29 August, the acquisition of Ajax’s right winger Antony has been almost decided, and there is a prospect of improvement in both the thinness and quality.Embed from Getty Images
However, as with Sancho, it is important for the whole team to push up in order to fully demonstrate their abilities. Unlike United, which has been used so far, it is necessary to have the organizational ability to overcome through cooperation with units rather than breaking through on an individual basis. Even for Antony, his dribbling technique is one of the best in the world, but he needs to polish his team tactics to make the most of it.
A change from the match against Liverpool, which showed a battle of souls. Especially in the second half, we could hardly pick up the second ball and it was a tough game to be pushed in. It’s good news that we were able to get the three points away from home, but it’s a bit disappointing that we missed the decisive moment in the first 20 minutes and lost control of the game ourselves. I think we played against tough opponents, but there is no denying that there was a temperature difference from the Liverpool game in terms of both mentality and intensity. However, I could feel the team spirit, so I was relieved there.
*Click here for the article against Liverpool
Among them, the defenders who achieved clean sheets can be said to have done a good job, but it is also true that there are issues in each section, as we have seen this time. Again, GK, Right SB, WG and ST will need reinforcement. As for the wing, we have acquired Antony, but in the few transfer markets remaining, it will be a question of how far he can go.
In the first four matches, the tactical adaptability of each player is gradually becoming clear. At the same time, it has become clear that there is a shortage of talent to play the football that Coach Ten Hag wants to play. It would be best if the reinforcements went as expected and the commander’s ideal squad could be assembled, but it will not be easy. What is important here is how much each player can improve their play. Especially in September, the overcrowded schedule starts. It is obvious that they will struggle in a situation where “only the regular team can do it”. Let’s look forward to the motivation of each player.
As a result of this match, United moved up to eighth place. They are six points behind leaders Arsenal.
The next leg is against Leicester City at King Power Stadium. Kick-off 4:00 on Friday 2 September. Came on! United!!
Thank you for reading until the end!