Manchester United defeated Aston Villa 1-0 in the Premier League to move into third place in the league table. Bruno Fernandes once again underlined his importance to his team by scoring the match-winner. Meanwhile, it was refreshing to see Manchester United take a leaf out of Manchester City and Liverpool’s book to play full-back Tyrell Malacia in the central midfield while in possession. Malacia defended well, too, often dropping down to his own penalty box to clear the danger.
However, Manchester United’s lack of symmetry was evident all along and not for the first time this season.
United boast a number of quality passers in their team who are all capable of playing probing through balls, especially against teams like Aston Villa who decide to play with a high defensive line.
The likes of Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Luke Shaw are quite adept at playing long through passes from deeper areas which make United a dangerous team on the counter. Marcel Sabitzer is also a solid passer but he has played in a more advanced role recently.
As a result, he has been on the receiving end of the passes mostly rather than providing them. The winning goal against Villa came from a headed pass by Casemiro, who keeps proving his worth in almost every match.
However, the lack of symmetry was there for everyone to see and it has been a familiar sight this season. Both Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford like to cut in through the inside-left channel with ball on their right foot. Even Anthony Martial, so often used as a substitute, prefers to cut inside from the left. With Antony not being in the best form, Bruno Fernandes has often played on the right flank, which is not his preferred position.
As a result, most of the long passes from inside the United half are typically played towards the left flank. This makes United’s attacks quite predictable and easier to defend. As the Red Devils do not have many right-wingers in their squad, this is something they will have to deal with moving forward. Fernandes scored the goal from a rebound against Aston Villa but it cannot be denied that his positioning on the right negatively affects the team’s creativity.