Manchester United put an end to Watford’s perfect start to the 2018-19 Premier League season with a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
The result means United have now won two in a row, moving the side eighth in the standings, while Watford lie in fourth.
Fellaini Has to be a Starter Moving Forward
For the second match in a row, Marouane Fellaini started and proceeded to put together an excellent outing for the Red Devils.
As one of the three central midfielders, he played a crucial role in shielding the team’s maligned defence, and his aerial presence in the box likely contributed to both United goals.
United played into their strengths on Saturday by overpowering Watford with a combination of Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Matic. The Belgian has done enough to warrant a regular starting position, regardless of the opposition.
He fits Jose Mourinho’s system, can be a great barrier ahead of the defence and will always be a factor in attack with his aerial ability. He has to be in the team for the coming matches, starting in Switzerland in midweek.
Mourinho Needs to Drop Sanchez for Rashford or Martial
It’s remarkable how little attention Alexis Sanchez’s poor start to the season has received. For example, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil routinely faces criticism whenever he falls short of expectations, and things should be no different for Sanchez.
The Chilean hasn’t come close to justifying the fanfare that greeted his transfer in January, and his performances should put a question mark over his starting place.
Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News noted his poor form should be good news for Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial:
Mourinho responded to his critics in his pre-match press conference over Rashford’s supposed lack of playing time. It’s easy to see why some fans are upset they don’t get to see the England international often enough while Sanchez continues to do painfully little with the ball.
The same holds true for Martial, and one deserves his chance to start ahead of Sanchez. Perhaps benching him in the Champions League against lowly Young Boys will get him out of his rut.
⚽️⚽️⚽️ Hat-trick for Eden Hazard
🇫🇷 But he was full of praise for Olivier Giroud
Can Chelsea be title challengers?#CFC #Hazard #CHECAR pic.twitter.com/EHZML03Ce9
— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) September 15, 2018
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsOnce Hazard sets the pulses racing, momentum usually swings Chelsea’s way. Along with his natural ability, Hazard is good enough to haul a solid squad firmly into the title-winning picture.
Emery has tried him on the left wing, where his lack of defensive ability puts far too much pressure on Bellerin.
The Spaniard also isn’t an elite or willing defender, resulting in plenty of space for the hosts:
Arsenal looking as vulnerable as ever on counterattacks. You know something’s not right when left-winger Aubameyang has to track back and cover for right-back Bellerin… #NEWARS
— Mattias Karén (@MattiasKaren) September 15, 2018
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Ramsey also struggled in a central role, making the solution to these issues as clear as day: simply switch the Welshman with Ozil.
The latter has always been at his best as a primary playmaker in the centre, and Ramsey has the range and stamina to play in front of Bellerin and take on full-backs.
By removing some of his defensive duties, Emery would give Ozil more chances to use his tremendous vision and passing range, and that could only aid in attack. It’s a switch the tactician has to make, and he should waste no time doing so.
Torreira Has Earned a Starting Position
Like Leno, Lucas Torreira should be given more chances to start. The former Sampdoria man replaced Matteo Guendouzi at half-time on Saturday, and there were more than a few who questioned the decision, as the Frenchman had barely made a mistake:
But it was no coincidence Xhaka bagged the equaliser shortly after, with Torreira making up for his defensive shortcomings and allowing the Swiss to contribute further up the pitch. It was Torreira who created the free-kick with a dangerous pass to begin with.
The 22-year-old appears to be the perfect partner for Xhaka, and while Guendouzi is a special talent, it’s too early for him to be playing every week. Emery needs to let the youngster progress at his own pace, and in the meantime, Torreira deserves to start.
With Tottenham pressing on, the Reds counter-attacked expertly through their attacking trio of Mane, Salah and Firmino. The home side were penned in and appeared at a loss as to how to stem the flow of all-red attacks.
Rafael Hernandez of Barcelona fansite Grup14 commented on how well the Reds attackers test their opponents’ defence:
What was also impressive was Liverpool were able to see out the game with minimal fuss for the second consecutive away game. At the back, Alisson Becker was assured between the sticks, while Virgil van Dijk snuffed out any potential threat from Harry Kane.
Fabinho Faces Fight to Dislodge Wijnaldum from Midfield
Liverpool spent more than any Premier League side in the summer, and Fabinho’s acquisition from Monaco was a big part of that recruitment drive.
At the moment, with Wijnaldum playing so well, he may have to wait a little longer for his Premier League debut.
It was the Dutch international who scored the crucial opening goal for Liverpool. An away goal in a Reds shirt has been a long time coming for him:
Aside from that strike, Wijnaldum excelled as the deepest of the Reds’ midfield trio, winning back possession and moving the ball forward quickly to set up counter-attacks.
With Jordan Henderson on the bench alongside Fabinho, manager Jurgen Klopp made a big call sticking with Wijnaldum in this crucial game.
At the moment, his performances warrant him being one of the first names on the teamsheet.