Manchester United managed to make a light work of Stoke City on Tuesday night at Old Trafford, coming off with a 3-0 win which guides the Red Devils Premier League top-four ambitions back on track firmly.
Jesse Lingard’s head opened the scoring early on, thanks to a brilliant Cameron Borthwick-Jackson cross from the left, and Anthony Martial netted a stunning second to compound the advantage before the break.
Stoke tried to push on a bit more in the second half and even enjoyed some better spells but were ultimately punished by an extraordinary counter-attack goal from skipper Rooney after a blistering, incisive move.
Anthony Martial put in an extraordinary performance last night, twisting and turning his way down the left side throughout the match and chipping in with a stunning goal along with an assist.
The Red Devils started at Old Trafford positively and eventually fed the French attacker early on, and then it was his jinking runs and threatening moves which became the catalyst for a shock upturn in team confidence. He went on to fire warning shots one after another, particularly on one occasion playing in Juan Mata for a scoring chance, before he found the top corner in an arguably Thierry Henry fashion from the corner of the box. His every action on Tuesday night be it a pass, a dribble or a flick, all came off with perfection, and the lastly assist for captain Rooney’s tap-in was certainly the icing on a magnificent display
Rooney back to his best?
Over the past month or so, Rooney really has been bubbling into form. Except the blank period against Southampton, January was somehow kind to him and that impressive goal scoring form has continued into this February, with the veteran striker scoring once and assisting on another in the comprehensive 3-0 victory against Stoke City. He actually had another chalked off for a foul but he has now moved within five of Sir Bobby Charlton’s United record. Rooney’s best moment was the amazing pin-point cross-field pass to pick out Anthony Martial for United’s second goal. Fans were just stunned, the execution and precision on the ball was a moment of brilliance.
Impressive Cameron Borthwick-Jackson
What a way to celebrate your 19th birthday. With as many as five full-backs out with injury, van Gaal was searching for cover in the recently closed window. But Borthwick-Jackson’s impressive performance at left-back as he set up the opener here, may have given United a welcome boost. On his birthday, the homegrown young defender did exceptionally well.
Stoke’s torn apart Right-backs
It was a nightmare for Glen Johnson and Phil Bardsley; both of them were literally torn apart by Anthony Martial last night.
Johnson opened the proceedings as right-back, and within the first two minutes Martial toppled him, torturing the stoke defender one-on-one and constantly found space to build up the moves. However, Injuries saw a re-shuffle after 30 minutes. Johnson was moved inside and Bardsley replaced him on the right, he also was beaten repeatedly. For 60 long minutes, Bardsley seemed terrified to stop his marker; hesitation in every challenge and struggle to get anywhere near Martial were eminent. Johnson despite switching centrally, looked terrible, again being beaten not only over the top but also for strength on minimum three occasions.
Marko Arnautovic needs to perform
Back in December, Stoke City unexpectedly handed Manchester United a taste of defeat at the Britannia Stadium, and they beat them quite well. In that fixture, Marko Arnautovic came out as a key figure and a match-winner. However, the Potters’ momentum has very much dropped off, and that downward movement is linked especially to Arnautovic’s loss of form. Injury has certainly played a part in that, but Stoke City boss Mark Hughes needed him the most to put in a star performance at Old Trafford but Arnautovic displayed the complete opposite.
Last night’s performance once again proved, the Austrian has mastered the art of cutting a frustrated figure, and the spectators were treated to an expose against Manchester United. Most of the balls lofted to him did not even stick, any shots he attempted ultimately ended in the stands and he was holding the ball too long far too often. Let’s hope there will be better days waiting for the extremely talented wide forward.