Manchester United came from behind to win a fifth successive away game in the Premier League on Saturday. Goals from Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford secured a 3-1 win for the Red Devils over West Ham.
This latest comeback win, which is becoming something of a Manchester United trademark this season, sees them clamber up to fourth in the table with 10 games played. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are now just two points off the top.
Interestingly, it was the home side that started the game in impressive fashion, as they went into the half time break leading 1-0 thanks to a goal from Tomas Soucek. The Czech midfielder tapped in Declan Rice’s flick-on from close range in the 38th minute.
Despite enjoying more of the possession, the visitors were lucky to be facing just the single-goal deficit at the break. West Ham created some gaping spaces in the Manchester United defence, but failed to make the most of several extremely presentable chances.
Manchester United threw on Bruno Fernandes and Rashford straight from kick-off in the second half. Their introduction seemed to breathe new life into the Red Devils, who began their now-customary comeback in away fixtures with a superb long-range strike from Pogba in the 65th minute.
Greenwood then completed the turnaround just three minutes later with an equally impressive finish. The young forward controlled Alex Telles’ cross before volleying home on the turn to give Manchester United the lead.
Rashford had the chance to send his side further clear four minutes after that, but only managed to hit the post after being released by a precise through-ball from Fernandes. However, finding himself in a similar position in the 78th minute, the young Englishman made no mistake as he made it 3-1 with a chipped finish.
In response, West Ham did force a few good saves from Dean Henderson in the Manchester United goal. They looked to mount a comeback of their own, but were left disappointed as the visitors went home with the three points.
On that note, here are the five major talking points from an engaging fixture between Manchester United and West Ham at the London Stadium.
#1 The Premier League welcomes fans back into stadiums
After a couple of months of no football followed by several more months of football behind closed doors, this fixture at the London Stadium finally marked the return of fans to the stadiums in Premier League fixtures.
And in typical fashion, the normally passionate West Ham faithful were in good voice. They cheered on every forward move by their team while never missing an opportunity to jeer the opposition, and added an element to the matchday experience that had been sorely missed and impossible to replicate in the interval.
Unfortunately for the West Ham supporters watching their side from the stands, an encouraging first-half display fell to pieces in the second as their side suffered a disappointing defeat in this encounter.
Certain Premier League clubs have been allowed to have fans back in the stands, while others have been forced to wait a bit longer under the tiered system in place in England.
It will be interesting to see the impact that in-person support has on in-game dynamics, and whether home advantage will be more pronounced going forward.
#2 One eye on the Champions League for Manchester United
Despite starting their UEFA Champions League campaign off with impressive wins against Paris Saint Germain and RB Leipzig, Manchester United find themselves in the unenviable position of needing at least a point against the German side to progress into the Round of 16.
As such, with a trip to Germany looming on the horizon, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced into making four changes to the side that lost to PSG in their previous fixture.
While Dean Henderson deputised in goal for David de Gea, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek accompanied Scott McTominay in a rejigged midfield. Mason Greenwood returned to the forward line. A notable absentee from the traveling squad was Fred, who suffered the ignominy of being sent off in the PSG fixture.
Joining De Gea on the Manchester United bench were Marcus Rashford and talismanic midfielder Bruno Fernandes. Solskjaer cited niggles as the reason for leaving them on the bench, and expressed hope that he would not have to use them in this game.
Unfortunately for the Manchester United manager, the services of both Fernandes and Rashford were needed to be utilised straight after the half time break. The away side found themselves a goal down, and struggling to find room to create meaningful opportunities to get back into the game.
Since the changes proved to be the catalyst that inspired a Manchester United comeback win, it is unlikely that Solskjaer would be too put out by being forced to use his star attackers.
#3 Moyes making his mark at West Ham
Having helped the side stave off the threat of relegation last season, David Moyes was rewarded with a long-term contract at West Ham ahead of the current season. The decision that seems to be paying off for the Hammers.
Evidence of the work that has gone into the West Ham side by the Scotsman, his staff, and his players has been clearly evident in their fine start this season. The Irons went into this fixture in sixth place, one point off the top four and on the back of a three-game winning streak.
One of the most notable changes Moyes has made to the squad has been the switch to a 3-5-2. The system that seems to have revitalised the West Ham careers of certain players while bringing the best out of others.
Fabian Balbuena, who seemed set to leave the club at the end of last season, has found a new lease of life in the back three alongside erstwhile left-back and now centre-back Aaron Cresswell, who marshals the left side of the back three.
On the flanks, left wing-back Arthur Masuaku is another player to have been reborn under Moyes, with summer signing Vladimir Coufal also having settled in very well on the opposite side.
Further upfield, West Ham rely heavily on the pace of Michail Antonio, the trickery of Jarrod Bowen, and the industry of Pablo Fornals. The physicality of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek keeps them ticking over nicely in midfield.
All of Moyes’ tactical tweaks were highlighted in this fixture against his former employers. His current side allowed the opposition to retain the majority of possession without much effect as they pressed hungrily high up the field.
The Hammers also switched seamlessly between dropping into a back five when out of possession and straight back into a 3-5-2 after winning back the ball, giving the United defence plenty of headaches.
Unfortunately for the home side, the second-half introduction of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford seemed to throw their team shape out of whack as they conceded thrice to end up on the losing side.
However, Moyes’ side can take several positives from their performance in this game, which, if replicated in upcoming fixtures, is sure to stand them in good stead throughout the rest of the season.
#4 The Pogba problem continues to perplex Manchester United
If there was a performance that could sum up Paul Pogba’s Manchester United career, this was surely it.
The World Cup-winning midfielder has delighted and exasperated fans and pundits in equal measure, punctuating some moments of magic with frustratingly poor displays.
With Bruno Fernandes on the bench against West Ham, the onus fell on Pogba to link the play between attack and defence. He was unable to accomplish this task in a largely anonymous first half display.
However, even as some were suggesting that he was lucky to come back out for the second half, Pogba lit up the London Stadium by bringing United back on level terms with a fantastic long-range strike that gave Lukasz Fabianski no chance in the West Ham goal.
The second-half introduction of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford revitalised Pogba. The Frenchman seemed to transform into the player that United thought they had signed once the Portuguese playmaker arrived to share some of the creative responsibilities.
As such, United fans would be hoping for Solskjaer to find a way to play Pogba and Fernandes in the same side going forward if it were to result in the Frenchman rediscovering his best form.
#5 Manchester United remain perfect away from home this season
Manchester United have built much of their storied Premier League history on a solid base of displays at their famous home ground, with Old Trafford being the site of some famous triumphs.
However, this season tells a completely different tale. The Red Devils have been extremely vulnerable at home but have secured five wins from five games on the road.
Remarkably, United have done it the hard way each time away from home. They've come from behind to claim three points in all five of their away fixtures this season, and have the most points accrued from losing positions in the league this season.
In fact, the Red Devils have now collected more points in games that they have trailed in than any other side in Premier League history, with this latest comeback taking their tally up to 385.
This win against West Ham marks their ninth consecutive away win in the Premier League. This is their longest such stretch in league history and it is also the first time they have won five straight on the road since the 1985-86 season.
On current form, the United faithful would be pleased to note that their crucial upcoming Champions League tie against RB Leipzig is to be played in Germany.