Momentum rewards and confidence flows for Manchester United
Last week the focus was all placed on the momentum that was building around Manchester United and now the club and fans are being rewarded. The past three fixtures look as if the Red Devils have finally turned the page. With a nice 1-0 win over Tottenham, a 2-1 midweek-victory over Crystal Palace and a convincing 2-0 defeat of West Bromwich Albion, things are finally looking up for supporters. While United never played particularly poorly in the string of draws that they faced weeks ago it was almost as if a cloud of disbelief had been placed over them. This week the exact opposite has happened and a few important factors seem to be returning.
After three years of frustration, the momentum that was started has continued and the team is reaping the rewards. Zlatan is looking more and more confident in front of net and when the big Swedish striker is firing the points are usually following with it. Ibrahimovic now finds himself only a couple goals behind current goal scoring leader Diego Costa. The powerful header off a brilliant ball by Jesse Lingard in the 5th minute against the Baggies got United fans jumping. While the goals that is he scoring are well earned the manager has been praising the attitude, leadership and mental make-up of the big man as well. The 35-year-old striker is making himself impossible to drop.
The comfort that the back line has been awarded by solid performances from Paul Pogba and Ander Herrea can’t go unnoticed either. While both of their play going forward is quite good, the defensive job that they have done, snuffing out opponent’s attacks, has really been a catalyst for stronger pressure by the rotating front three. Countless times in attack, when it looks like the defense has closed down, in sweeps Pogba and Herrera to provide that second chance. By releasing the pressure a layer higher up the field it has gifted the back line a chance to square away marks and choose positive angles towards the ball. Jones and Rojo are reading the game much better off one another and finding the chance to breathe. Staples to all teams, with regards to defending, is pressure on the ball, cover for players and balance and United seem to be getting all three right at the moment.
Confidence seems to be flowing through the team and, even when the passes are not linking and finishing is still dodgy, the ideas and creativity are present. Risks are being taken by full-backs and midfielders are finding space in behind the opposition’s back-line. Confident counter-attacks, a staple of the “Old United”, are back. Players are constantly applauding the effort and ideas of one another. Sunday, before kick-off, Manchester United fans grimaced at the team that was selected. West Brom, known for their acute and decisive defending, saw a United team that was lacking in flair and pace upfront, leaving supporters perplexed. As the game played out many were probably surprised to see the level of calmness that the match provided. Not once did United look as if they were going to lose control. When the dreaded 60 minute struck there was no fear. After Zlatan bagged his brace it looked done and dusted.
When teams are playing with confidence in the Premier League good things tend to happen. Momentum and confidence can mean the world to a team that thought the cards were stacked against them weeks prior. Supporters can only sit back and hope that once the likes of Eric Bailly and Henrik Mkhitaryan return from injury that the busy holiday period can reach yet another height. Favourable fixtures are providing wonder on how far Manchester United can climb up the table in coming weeks. Currently, after this weekend’s results, they find themselves only four points behind fourth placed Arsenal, with the Champions League positions well and truly in sight.
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