Three talking points as Manchester United came from behind to beat Newcastle United

Manchester United came from behind to secure a crucial victory over Newcastle United to keep on the tails of local rivals Manchester City. They didn’t get off to the best start as they conceded their first goal at home in the Premier League this season as Dwight Gayle stepped up to open his account for the campaign. In football, it is possible to score too early and that was true for the Magpies on Saturday as they invited pressure once 1-0 up.

The home side played with a quicker tempo and stretched the pitch, which opened up gaps in the opposition back four. Goals from Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku earned the points for the home side. Here are three talking points from the game:

Paul Pogba is a class above

Jose Mourinho will be frustrated that he had to miss his star midfielder for a large portion of the season so far as he is clearly a cut above in the middle of the park. There are few midfielders that can dominate a game like he can and he picked up from where he left off on Saturday. He rarely made a mistake on the ball and picked the right option more often than not. Newcastle couldn’t get near him and he was the true difference maker on the day.

The Frenchman scored the third goal to put the result beyond doubt, but his main contribution was to dictate the tempo in central areas and give the attackers more time to influence the game in the final third. He completed 84% of his passes, made two key passes and three dribbles during the match to help Manchester United in transition. His aerial ability is often forgotten about, but he won four aerial duels on Saturday and worked hard when his team didn’t have possession. Mourinho will be hoping that Pogba stays fit as the team are a lot more effective when he is.

Newcastle United need to strengthen their squad in January

Newcastle United got off to a great start at Old Trafford and held their own for the first 30 minutes, but the lack of summer spending came back to hurt them in this match. Rafa Benitez and the squad of players are doing the best they can, but they need to add more quality if they are to sustain performances, especially against the top six teams in the Premier League. Their starting eleven on Saturday cost £72 million, which is less than the £89 million that Manchester United spent on Paul Pogba.

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Hard work and organisation can only get a team so far. It is clear that Newcastle need more quality in their squad and Benitez will be pressing for that. Despite three successive league defeats, the club look to be good enough to survive this season. However, the manager and supporters will be hoping for more during the coming years. The takeover talk continues to rumble on in the background, but regardless of who is the owner come January, the club needs to spend.

Manchester United’s wing-backs were excellent

They were given more freedom to get forwards to support the attack and they had a lot of success against Newcastle on Saturday. Their movement and advanced positioning meant that Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial could take up central areas, which caused the opposition a lot of problems. The centre-backs had to pay attention to them as well as Romelu Lukaku and the confusion that caused created space for the attackers in the box.

Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia are both converted wingers, which means they are very good in the opposition half. The former got an assist for the second goal and it was a superb delivery that took the defenders out of the equation to give Chris Smalling an easy task of heading home. Valencia was equally as important on the other side of the pitch and caused problems for the Newcastle defence.

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