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Manchester United

Analysing Marcus Rashford’s goal-scoring display against Leicester City

Manchester United ran riot at lunch-time on Saturday, beating champions Leicester City comfortably. The match finished 4-1, but the home side could have scored more in what was a great display of attacking football. Jose Mourinho made a huge decision to drop Wayne Rooney and it paid dividends, introducing what could be the next chapter in Manchester United’s history.

The future looks bright at Old Trafford and it is likely to centre on Marcus Rashford. The 18-year-old has had an excellent 2016 and once again impressed against Leicester City.

He started on the left wing on Saturday in the absence of Anthony Martial and showed that he has the ability to play in the wide positions. Jesse Lingard played on the opposite wing and the two Manchester United youth graduates showed that they have a great relationship. They were frequently swapping flanks, giving both the opportunity to roam in the final third. The absence of Rooney allowed the side to be dynamic and they were no longer predictable in the final third.

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The England international scored the third goal for United in what was a great display of movement. Juan Mata played a dangerous ball into the box after a short corner, giving Rashford the easy task of hitting the back of the net. It was the movement and awareness from the 18-year-old that was most impressive. Although the finish was simple, Rashford showed maturity beyond his years to get into the right place at the right time. His goal-scoring instinct has been excellent since breaking into the first team and he is quickly becoming a mainstay of the starting eleven as a result.

At times, the combination play between the front four was excellent. Rashford and Lingard used their pace to get in behind the Leicester defence to great effect. Manchester United’s number 19 has been playing well in recent weeks, despite the team’s patchy form, which has shown his good mentality. That was on show once again at Old Trafford, as he recovered from missing a decent chance early in the first half. As a player, Rashford doesn’t let missed chances affect his game as he knows more will arrive and that is a rare trait to find in a teenager.

Rashford is good with the ball and his decision making is improving as he gains experience in senior football. He finished the game with an 85% pass completion rate, showing that he can be trusted with possession in the final third. The teenager is direct, but he isn’t selfish and links up well with his team-mates.

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Although it is his attacking contributions that are making the headlines, Rashford does track back and has adjusted well to his new role on the wing. Jose Mourinho demands that his wide players work hard when the opposition have the ball and Rashford has bought into that. He won his only attempted tackle and made a further interception. This isn’t a ground-breaking contribution, but it highlights how Rashford is willing to work hard for his team and he needs to be applauded for that.

It was another good performance from Rashford and the excitement around him continues to build. He has now confirmed himself as an important first-team player and will be in the starting eleven more often than not. Mourinho will understand that Rashford needs to be managed carefully as he is only a teenager and at the beginning of his football career. However, his goal-scoring instinct has allowed him to emerge as a dangerous player and opposition sides still don’t know how to deal with him.

Today marked the beginning of the new era without Rooney and the 18-year-old is going to be the key figure for the future.

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