Four statistics that defined Manchester United’s comfortable 2-0 victory over Leicester City
Manchester United’s rampant start to the new season showed little sign of relenting on Saturday evening as goals from Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellani were enough to beat Leicester City.
The hosts never looked like being troubled all afternoon, picking up where they left off from the opening two matches and nearly taking the lead when Juan Mata’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Paul Pogba went close from range a number of times and Mata forced a smart save from Kasper Schmeichel but Leicester stood firm, until Jose Mourinho’s side were awarded a second-half penalty after Danny Simpson was adjudged to have handled a goal-bound cross.
Romelu Lukaku’s spot-kick was well-saved down to his right by Schmeichel but fortunately for the hosts it didn’t prove costly, and Rashford and Fellaini ensured that United’s 100% record continued.
5 – Mkhitaryan the assist king
With all of the noise and hype over the arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba last year a player who went slightly under the radar was Henrikh Mkhitaryan, formerly of Borussia Dortmund.
The Armenian joined from the German side after an impressive few seasons in the Bundesliga but, for whatever reason, things failed to click at Old Trafford and he found life tough in the Premier League despite excelling and being one of the stand-out men in United’s Europa League final victory.
Yet this season he’s come out firing and seemingly with a point to prove, being included in the opening three starting line-ups – ahead of Ander Herrera, which is no mean feat – and impressing.
Against Leicester City his neat midfield play kept the hosts constantly on the attack, roaming the opposition third and playing intricate passes to try and find a way to unlock a stubborn back-four.
It was perhaps appropriate – and somewhat inevitable – then that Mkhitaryan was the one to craft the way through, with his corner falling on a plate for Rashford to fire into the net to give him his fifth assist of the season in just three games, equalling the top-flight record for the start of a season.
6 – Manchester United’s goal struggles are behind them
Every Manchester United supporter will admit that, despite his utter brilliance last season, Jose Mourinho’s side were far too reliant on the goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to keep winning games.
The veteran Swede managed 17 Premier League goals – with five assists – ending the season by scoring 11 more than any other player, and the worry was they’d struggle for goals again this year.
But it’s been a completely different story so far this year, with ten goals coming in just three matches and six different players finding the net already, and it’s fair to say any issues are gone.
Something that is equally intriguing, however, is that 40% of United’s goals have come from substitutes – including the two against Leicester – and it just highlights the pure strength in depth.
15 – Maguire’s a colossal figure in Leicester’s defence
One man who was certainly unfortunate to be on the losing side at Old Trafford was Leicester’s Harry Maguire, who celebrated his debut England call-up with an outstanding display on Saturday.
For 70 minutes he led an excellent rear-guard performance from the visitors, keeping the hosts at bay with a combination of disciplined positioning, solid concentration and some last-ditch defending.
The ex-Hull City man was influential at keeping United quiet, making four interceptions, ten clearances and one key block, and alongside Wes Morgan they kept things extremely well-organised.
But it wasn’t just his defensive play that impressed either, completing more take-ons (2) than the likes of Jamie Vardy (0), Marc Albrighton (1) and Shinji Okazaki (0) as he looked to push his side out.
And it’s this part of his game that has got the anticipation and buzz building around him, willing to drive from the back and get his side counter-attacking and on the move, and although it didn’t come to anything in a tough encounter with United he still left Old Trafford with his head held very high.
3 – Rashford to the rescure
Yet just when it looked like Leicester City may have been edging closer to a valiant, hard-fought point, Marcus Rashford was called upon from the bench and took the game away from the Foxes.
Introduced in the 67th minute to add some pace into the game, the 19-year-old immediately stretched the visitors with his direct running and willingness to run in-behind Morgan and Maguire.
During his cameo he attempted three take-ons and created two chances himself, highlighting the impact he had, before breaking the dead-lock with a smart and well-taken finish on the half-volley.
There’s little doubt that being demoted to the bench in place of Anthony Martial would have riled him up slightly, and he responded in the perfect manner to give Mourinho a reminder of his talent.