PL 2018/19: Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City; 3 key battles that decided the game
Aah, Premier League football, how much we have missed you!
Why the FA decided to start the league on a Friday with a one-off match instead of going for the crowds with a Saturday start is beyond me, but it is just as well that they did. The first game of the season saw Manchester United settle for a 2-1 win at home against Leicester City.
A little rugged from the WC, both teams did not field the best XI they would have liked, tacking on a few rotation players. It took Paul Pogba - who was also chosen to lead the team this time around, a mere 70 seconds to open the scoring with a penalty.
As the game looked to be heading to a 1-0 end, Luke Shaw scored his first senior goal for the side, with a finish any forward would have been proud of. And the drama got turned up after Jamie Vardy (who else?) snatched one back, but last year's runners upheld on to get their first 3 points of the campaign.
As always, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the final outcome of the game. Here's a look at 3 of them:
#3 Demarai Gray vs Matteo Darmian
Oh yeah, Darmian still plays for Manchester United.
With Mahrez now at Manchester City and Vardy rested for the game, it was up to Demarai Gray to shoulder the burden of attacks, and shoulder the burden he did. After a string of hopeful performances in the friendlies, Gray was a pocket of energy causing all sorts of problems to the United backline.
It was Darmian Gray who was tasked with marking the forward, and the lack of the Italian's game time was exceedingly visible in the first 30 minutes of the game. As the game went on, however, he found his footing and got the confidence to move forwards as Valencia does - effectively neutralising Gray's dominance over him.
It was a more even battle in the second half, as Gray also decided to put in a defensive work rate with Chillwell bombing forward as and when required. The stats were evenly split as well, with Gray's 5 dribbles matched by Darmian's 5 tackles; Gray might have run circles around Darmian at the start of the game, but they ended with more or less the same credentials at the end of the day.