Under early pressure, Mourinho hosted Leicester City at Old Trafford as another Premier League season kicked off. United were without key players who starred at the world cup, but still fielded a strong team. Claude Puel looked to field a squad filled with new players. An exciting prospect for both manager and fans. It looked to be an emphatic opening fixture for football fans all over the country.
United’s Player Ratings Against Leicester
Manchester United’s key striker, Romelu Lukaku, failed to make the starting 11 due to fitness issues. Marcus Rashford, who has burst onto the scene, stepped up wearing the number 10 shirt, hoping to kick his Premier League season off with a goal or two.
Despite no start for Lukaku, the hosts named a strong line up with David De Gea in goal. New singing Fred and Paul Pogba commanded the midfield with help from Mata. Victor Lindelof also started, hoping to improve on his debut season at the club, which was less than impressive.
Mourinho’s men were hoping to improve on their 2-2 draw against the Foxes last time the two faced each other, looking at different attacking tactics and defensive techniques to see them earn three points.
That’s just what the Red Devils managed to do, with a 2-1 win over the Foxes. Pogba opened the scoring just two minutes into the game, setting a record for the fastest opening goal to a Premier League campaign for United. It also secured Mourinho’s 500th goal in the competition.
Leicester piled on the pressure throughout the game but United defended the ball excellently. Leicester lived to rue their chances going forward, as Luke Shaw bagged the first goal of his senior career.
Leicester pulled a goal back in added time through Jamie Vardy. The goal was due to a lack of communication between keeper De Gea and defender Eric Bailly.
The win means that they have now won the last 22 games in which they scored first in the Premier League. On the other hand, Leicester have now lost their last three opening games. This means that Manchester United have set the bar for other title contenders who play tomorrow.
David De Gea: 7
De Gea had a quiet game despite Leicester having 54% possession. He made light work of the four shots on target that Leicester managed against him. The first half was the busiest for De Gea where he made a vital save, throwing his right arm at the ball parrying it away from his goal.
Matteo Darmian: 6
Darmian struggled in the first half, looking weary on the ball. He also looked afraid to make a tackle against Demarai Gray, who easily drifted past him multiple times. Leicester saw this weakness and probed it relentlessly. 46% of attacks came down the wing that Darmian was defending in the first half. Fred tracked back to cover for his team mate successfully. Darmian grew into the game in the second half, but still looked uncomfortable on and off the ball.
Eric Bailly: 8
Bailly looked very strong throughout the game and seems to be United’s key man at the back this season. He covered for his teammates’ errors and made multiple vital tackles in crucial moments of the game. Communication between Bailly and De Gea was poor, but the only fault in an otherwise flawless performance.
Lindelof relied upon on the help of teammate Bailly as he struggled for pace against a promising James Maddison. A few sloppy passes early in the game, he seemed to grow in confidence and held his position and concentration well after being asked a lot of him in the game.
Luke Shaw scored what was, in the end, the winning goal for the Reds, and more personally, his first senior goal. He had great chemistry with Alexis Sanchez and looked very good going forward. A few bad passes but made up for them with great defending.
Fred had a solid debut game for Manchester United, looking good going forwards and backwards. Helped out Darmian many times. Most importantly, his defensive duties allowed Pogba to move further up the pitch and have creative freedom.
A quiet game for Pereira, as his midfield counterparts, Pogba and Mata, controlled most of United’s possession. Got booked in the second half, before remaining quiet for the rest of the game.
Pogba looked fresh and eager to play off the back off his World Cup win with France. Fred’s defensive performance allowed Pogba to dart forward and set his teammates up. Pogba showed his passing range, from short to long balls. He also scored the penalty early on which kick-started United’s campaign in style, with a beautifully placed finish in the top right corner. He controlled the game well, having the most touches in the match.
Mata also exhibited his passing range, with many successful passes to Rashford in the first half. Mata grew and grew into the game showing his class as an attacking midfielder. He also had a decent attempt from just inside the area deflected wide.
Rashford had a frustrating game, often making runs that didn’t end up with him receiving the ball. He showed his flair and skill making light work out of the Leicester defence. He was substituted for Lukaku in the second half after a solid performance.
Sanchez had a great game all over the pitch and was in the right place at the right time. He picked out 30 and 40-yard passes and controlled the ball well. He struggled in the final third to put shots away, however. He was selfless throughout the game passing when he had the chances to shoot showing he is a team player.
Came on in the final quarter and saw the game out well. Created a few chances himself and missed a clear chance late on which saw the keeper deflect over the bar. More to come from Lukaku once he is rested from a busy World Cup.
Came on in the final few minutes to see the game out. Defended well and played like the typical Fellaini does. Didn’t have enough time to impact the game but looked fit.
McTominay looked good when he came on, eager to get onto the ball and create chances. He seems to work well with Mata on and off the pitch. This could be vital for McTominay progress at the club.