Three goals, a Pogba masterclass and United close the gap. Not a bad night for the Reds. No complaints, apart from the obvious one of course.
United dominated the game but defensive issues persist in this United starting 11. As poor as Stoke are they created five good chances in the first half. They really should have taken at least three of them! Stephen Ireland, who I thought was now retired, had two great chances to score but could not convert. At the end of the first half Shaqiri slowly walked through the wonder twins and forced a good save from De Gea.
On all three of the above occasions Stoke players just walked through the United midfield and rearguard. This is something Jose Mourinho must address in the summer. United need two centre halves to go right into the starting eleven. Bailly is perpetually injured and Lindelof has yet to settle. The less said about the Diouf chance in the closing stages the better. Smalling and Jones have no business starting for Manchester United, down the tunnel and out the gate lads. Take Rojo with you on the way out.
Paul Pogba makes this whole side tick. He was incredible again tonight. Pogba effortlessly sprayed great passes to the forwards all night, creating chances at will. I would love to see a stat of his possession versus the total percentage that Stoke City managed.
One stat we do have however is that Paul Pogba now has 9 assists which draws him level with De Bruyne. However, due to suspension and injury, Pogba has reached that total in 10 less games. Incredible stat.
De Bruyne – 23 games, 9 assists.
Pogba – 13 games, 9 assists
(Source: Sky Sports)
The number 9 was excellent tonight, I think it was his best game in a United shirt. Lukaku bullied Stoke all night and drew defenders away with intelligent runs leaving huge gaps for the likes of Pogba, Martial and Mata to exploit.
Lukaku scored United’s third after collecting a driven pass from Martial in the box. He managed to hold off two defenders and bury the ball low past Butland. Great stuff.
Maybe? Liverpool proved yesterday that this Man City side are far from “invincible”. Jose had no balls when we played them. He had United sitting back, terrified, when the way to beat them is to press high and work hard. Tapping the ball around their own box is an accident waiting to happen. Hopefully other managers approach playing them with similar bravery. 12 points to make up yet.
United had to win tonight to close the gap. City won’t drop a huge amount of points and my concern is that United are not consistent enough to put a long run together and punish any slip ups from the noisy neighbours. The addition of Alexis Sanchez will be a huge boost to United but will it be too little to late?