Manchester United broke the shackle to snatch a replay in their FA Cup clash with West Ham as they drew 1-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The first half was seemed to be a cagey affair, may be with both the teams aware that as Arsenal and Chelsea eliminated early on, there was a great opportunity for them to qualify for the semi-final. Despite United and West Ham having a couple of decent chances, neither goalkeeper was really tested.
In the second-half, the match started to open up a bit more but eventually it took a piece of genius from Dimitri Payet to strike the first goal. The Red Devils didn’t really look like they were going to get back into the match but yet again thanks to Martial they found a way to equalise.
Here we have picked up 5 talking points from the exciting clash between the two rivals.
Perfect time for Martial to rediscover touch
Van Gaal might have brought in Anthony Martial for the next United manager, but the Dutch manager is certainly getting his money’s worth, too. Even when he was posted out wide, the French attacker was Manchester United’s most dangerous player. But he is still thriving at his best when playing as a centre-forward. He was largely involved in the build-up to the equaliser and was keen enough to get on the end of the cross, too. It was not at all a finish but Martial made it look very easy. He also tracks back with as much pace and energy as he does go forward. Tactical awareness is an impressive criterion for a young player who is still learning.
West Ham utilised a free week nicely
It was Manchester United’s second match in four days whereas West Ham had a full week to get ready without the distraction of European football. Van Gaal had to make only three changes to the starting eleven that suffered a humiliating defeat at Liverpool and midway through the second half the whole team started to look very tired. Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind, especially, seemed like they were in desperate need of a breather. It was no such coincidence that Rojo might have given away a penalty for a rusty challenge on Payet and Blind gave away the free-kick which ultimately led to the goal.
Varela looks comfortable going forward than defending
Guillermo Varela is always on his toes to move forward, bombing on whenever his team get the ball. But he still has a lot of work to do going the other way. Against West Ham on several occasions, he got dragged towards the ball, be it into midfield or the centre of defence, leaving large space behind him. It didn’t help much as Jesse Lingard struggled to outrun Aaron Cresswell when the full-back actually went forward. Still, Varela is gradually edging out Matteo Darmian as the first-choice right back.
Andy Carroll not just a target man
Carroll, with some impressive lay-offs, clever passing and intelligent movement in the first-half, proved there is still much more to him than being only a mere target man. Although he should have got his header on target and despite looking a bit off the pace at times he was altogether a good outlet for his team, winning a couple of free-kicks.
De Gea shows his worth again
After sparing his team’s blushes at bitter rivals Liverpool in midweek with a series of excellent saves, De Gea was at his best again, making a crucial stop low down to his right in order to keep out Antonio’s goal-bound shot in the very first minute of added time. However, he couldn’t keep out Dimitri Payet’s exceptional free-kick as he was too far to his left.