Premier League 2018/19: 3 reasons why Manchester United struggled against West Ham
Manchester United bagged all 3 points against the Hammers on Saturday despite a below-par performance at Old Trafford. Paul Pogba's brace from the penalty spot kept the Red Devils' hopes of finishing in the Champions League spot alive.
West Ham United started the game with great intensity and seemed determined to take the game to Manchester United from the start. The Hammers did manage to get the ball in the back of the net but were very unlucky as the goal was wrongly ruled out for offside.
Manchester United received a penalty after Robert Snodgrass barged into Juan Mata inside the penalty box and was brilliantly dispatched by Paul Pogba. West Ham dominated the game before the half-time whistle but was unable to get the equalising goal.
West Ham United continued with the same intensity in the second half and were rewarded with the equaliser in the 49th minute. The Red Devils were all over the place and West Ham United looked more likely to score the next goal. But a brilliant through ball from Paul Pogba split the West Ham defence and Anthony Martial found himself 1v1 with the goalkeeper.
Before he could dispatch his shot, Ryan Fredericks fouled him inside the box. Graham Scott was very well positioned to watch the incident and awarded Manchester United the 2nd penalty of the match. Paul Pogba scored his second from the spot with a great penalty to restore Manchester United's lead. The game ended 2-1 after 90 minutes.
The Red Devils looked the second best throughout the game and were lucky to get the 3 points. We pick 3 reasons why Manchester United struggled against the Hammers and delivered such a below-par performance at home:
#1 They were sloppy in midfield:
West Ham United came into the game with the intention to attack Manchester United and take the game to them from the first whistle. This left loads of spaces in the middle of the park for Manchester United to exploit.
But the Manchester United midfielders were unable to take advantage. They were too sloppy in possession and gave the ball away too many times during the transitions. They were unable to find the strikers with their passes during counter-attacks. Juan Mata didn't have the best of games yesterday and was guilty of losing the ball in key areas of the pitch.
#2 Playing Romelu Lukaku in wide positions:
Romelu Lukaku has played in the wider positions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season. The Belgian has got a brilliant left-foot and can deliver a dangerous balls into the box. But the Norwegian's decision to play him there yesterday wasn't his best decision. Manchester United needed a physical presence like Lukaku inside the 18-yard box to get in between the two centre-backs and attack the crosses.
But he found himself mostly in wide positions, delivering crosses he should be getting on the end of. The 20 crosses Manchester United put into the box might have caused West Ham some trouble if Lukaku played as the centre-forward yesterday.
#3 Lack of first-choice full-backs:
Ashley Young and Luke Shaw, both of Manchester United's first-choice full-backs were suspended for the clash against West Ham. Diogo Dalot and Marcos Rojo were called into the starting-XI to replace Young and Shaw respectively but didn't have the best of games yesterday. Dalot was struggling to defend against Lanzini and Snodgrass and the two managed to get past him numerous times on the right wing.
He also didn't offer much going forward and failed to put a decent cross into the box. On the other side, Felipe Anderson ran circles around Rojo and Anthony Martial had to drop deeper on the left-hand side in order to help his teammate.
As the two full-backs were struggling, Manchester United was forced to play through the middle which didn't suit them at all and that took a toll on their performance.