Analysing Zlatan Ibrahimovic's two-goal performance for Manchester United against West Brom

Manchester United are beginning to build momentum and they now have three league victories in succession. This week has improved their position in the league table and they can take the confidence gained into the coming weeks, as there will be opportunities to make up ground on the teams above them. It is going to be a difficult task for them to qualify for the Champions League as there are five teams above them with more points, but there is reason for optimism at Old Trafford and in Jose Mourinho, they have a manager that inspires confidence. They haven’t had that since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The one man that is central to their top four aspirations is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has been one of the best strikers in world football over the last decade, but there were doubts about whether he would be able to maintain his scoring rate in England. We have seen great strikers such as Andriy Shevchenko and Falcao come to the Premier League and struggle. However, Ibrahimovic has proved the doubters wrong and he has now scored an incredible 11 goals in 16 Premier League matches. Considering that he is 35 years of age and approaching the end of his career, this is extraordinary. He should be receiving a lot more praise than he currently is.

 

Against West Brom, he was the difference and he showed why he has been regarded as one of the best players in the game for the last ten years. His experience and quality both shone through, as he scored two goals to earn the three points for his side. There were few chances in this match, with the former PSG striker having only two shots, but he made sure to make them count. The first goal was a simple header, but his ability to take the defender out of the game with a shirt tug during the build-up showed his experience. Meanwhile, the second goal came as a result of a superb piece of skill, as he flicked the ball over a challenge and fired past Ben Foster. He guarantees goals and he has won six points for Manchester United over the last few days.

The rest of his game wasn’t as impressive as he completed only 74% of his passes and was sometimes careless in possession. Given his age, Ibrahimovic can’t play at full intensity for the entire ninety minutes and at times he can fade in matches. That was true today, but that said his experience helped his side see the game out and that was evident in some of his hold up play.

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Although he provided the match-winning goals, there is a slightly darker side to his game. His competitiveness and arrogance have taken him to the top of the game, but they can sometimes lead to rash decisions being made. One of which happened in this game as he was overly excessive in an aerial challenge with one of the West Brom defenders. He received a yellow card for it, his sixth of the season, but Howard Webb on BT Sport stated that it was one of those that was on the yellow/red card border. It didn’t punish his side today, but he needs to be more careful in future as he is vital to this side.

It was by no means an excellent performance, but it was a decisive one and his world class quality shone through. In the final third, there are few better and Manchester United are now reaping the rewards for bringing him to the club. Considering his age, his achievements at Old Trafford have been incredible and he is one of the few players in the game that have dominated several European leagues. He is a joy to watch and if he remains in this form, he could fire Manchester United back where they belong.

Featured image: All rights reserved by christinesanjaya

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