Five things we learned about Arsenal and Spurs rivals Man United in 1-1 draw against Leicester City
Manchester United’s Champions League hopes took another knock after a 1-1 stalemate against Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
Kelechi Iheanacho gave the Foxes the lead after planting a bullet header beyond David De Gea before Fred pounced on a follow-up.
Here are five things we learned about Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur’s top-four rivals, whose hopes of sneaking into the top-four are all but over as Arsenal not only boast a three-point advantage over their former fierce rivals but also have TWO games in hand.
Man United are not the same without CR7
For all his shortcomings such as supposedly slowing down the game and no longer being as incisive and decisive as he was a decade or so ago, Man United lacked cutting edge today without the eccentric Portuguese. Those who would like to see him go and think United are better off should think again. Their best chance in the opening 21 minutes came through a weak Pogba header. And even after the interval, clear-cut chances were at a premium. But Ronaldo’s mere presence inspires fear in the opponets who inevitably drop deeper, leaving Sancho and Anthony Elanga spaces to exploit. Furthermore, the ex-Juventus jewel’s end product is second to none at the club and even in the Premier League. And nobody possesses his winning mentality. If Rangnick really feels that he is better off without Cristiano Ronaldo as is being whispered around the Old Trafford quarters he may have a reason but it’s fair to say that only Ronaldo can get the hearts of United fans beating and their pulses racing.
His legs may no longer do what the mind dictates but he is still the club’s best, most consistent and influential player. And his stratospheric dominance is best reflected in the fact that United failed to win a single of their six games in his absence. Nobody barring Cavani, can feed off crosses like CR7. United could do much worse than keeping hold of him even for the new season to usher in a new era without Pogba, Cavani and probably Marcus Rasfhord.
Bruno Fernandes is NOT a number 9
Bruno Fernandes doesn’t look out of place as a false nine but he is more effective when dropping deeper. The powerful Portuguese ball carrier lacks the killer instinct to get on the end of high balls in the box and is very limited with his back to goal.
Maguire isn’t the worst
Where was the Raphael Varane when Iheanacho headed home the opener? The blame should be shared with Alex Telles who let the Nigerian striker do what he wanted. The ex-Inter Milan left-back and Varane repeatedly failed to track Leicester players down, either side of half-time.
And even Diogo Dalot didn’t enjoy his finest hours in a United shirt today. The ex-AC Milan loanee was found wanting when he failed to close down Harvey Barnes who nearly scored in the first half after a cross in from the left. Not to mention the nutmeg he was on the receiving end of before Maguire superbly blocked Barnes' goal-bound strike. The ex-Leicester defender, booed throughout by his former fans, was the best United defender today and even came close to gifting the lead on 94 minutes only for his header to lack the necessary power to trouble Kasper Schmeichel.
Rashford needs new lease of life
Rashford is no longer a game changer. He looks disinterested, hopeless or worse…unhappy.
He surely needs a fresh start, and for his own sake he could do much worse than departing the club in the summer in a bid to get his declining career back on track. In England or abroad. Nobody says that he has suddenly become a bad player overnight. But in order to rediscover his hunger he should leave his comfort zone or United could find themselves with a Kiko Macheda two on their books and struggle to find suitors before long. Rashford used to create numerical superiority with his dribblings and changes of pace but has now become a shadow of his former self.
Sancho is the only one who would play at Arsenal and Spurs
Of the players who featured today, Sancho is probably the only one who would feature under Antonio Conte at Tottenham and Mikel Arteta at Arsenal at the minute.
Okay he sliced his shot two minutes into added-time but he caused Leicester's backline every kind of problems with his pace and penetration. The ex-Dortmund star is a game-changer who loves beating his opponents in tight situations and, barring Ronaldo, the only player who can make things happen on his own when some of his teammates look like passengers and have a day off.