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Manchester United overcame West Ham United 2-1 in a thrilling affair at the London Stadium.
The Hammers were the better team in the opening half-an hour and took the lead courtesy of Said Benrahma’s deflected strike.
But, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo combined brilliantly, with the latter reacting to his saved header from Fernandes’ cross, to poke home at the second time of asking.
Both sides threatened for a winner, but Jesse Lingard popped up to haunt the Hammers with a ferocious strike into the top corner.
But in a dramatic turn of events Andriy Yarmolenko struck a cross onto Luke Shaw's arm and David Moyes' side were given a late penalty. Mark Noble came on specially from the bench to take the spot-kick, but David De Gea saved the West Ham captain's spot-kick.
Daily Star Sport takes a look at three things Solskjaer got right and two that were wrong…
Fred and McTominay’s midfield struggles
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Solskjaer deployed Fred and Scott McTominay as a midfield pivot for the first time since the opening day 5-1 victory against Leeds United.
It is presumed the Norwegian boss opted to partner the two lynch pins to cut out West Ham’s fast counterattacks.
However, both players seemed to be overwhelmed in the middle of the park as they struggled to hold on to the ball, and deal with West Ham’s attacking options on the break.
While his defensive attributes are perhaps not as refined as those of McTominay and Fred, United seemed to miss Pogba’s passing range and ability to play through the lines.
The Frenchman at times grew impatient and proceeded to drop deeper and deeper to find the ball.
Both Fred and McTominay were nowhere to be seen when Benrahma received the ball 25-yards from goal, before his deflected effort put the Hammers ahead.
Sometimes creativity needs to be sacrificed to provide extra defensive solidity; however, it did not appear to work in United’s favour at the London Stadium.
Greenwood's day to forget
Greenwood began the season in electric fashions, leading the line at centre forward, scoring three goals in United’s opening three matches.
However, Ronaldo’s return means he has had to be shafted out onto the right-hand side to make way for the imperious five-time Ballon D’Or winner.
While, Ronaldo has undoubtedly shined for United, Greenwood has not had the opportunity to show the same penetration and cutting edge he displayed earlier in the season, from the wide areas.
Greenwood is adept with both feet, but he naturally prefers to cut inwards onto his natural left foot.
Full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka does not maraud forward as much as Shaw, meaning Greenwood is often having to take on both opposition full-back, covering winger, and sometimes defensive midfielder.
His fantastic finish against Leeds United in the opening day of the season, saw him run on the left-hand side of the defender and finish first time with his left-foot.
The strike against Leeds in combination with his difficulties at right-wing could suggest he would be more comfortable on the left-wing instead.
While Solskjaer needs to maximise Ronaldo’s qualities as much as possible, there may also be a way to get Greenwood in amongst the goals as well.
Sancho on the bench?
The £70m man has struggled since joining the club this summer.
He is yet to record a goal or assist for the Red Devils; however, this could have been the game where he broke his United duck.
Shaw’s high positioning stretched the Hammers and created lots of gaps for Ronaldo, Fernandes, and Bruno.
Ronaldo was often drifting over the left-hand side, but he would not have needed to is Sancho was there to exploit the space.
Sancho’s ability to run in behind and operate in-between defences could have been devastating for United, particularly if Pogba was supplying him from the midfield.
He was eventually brought on for Greenwood with twenty minutes to go as Solskjaer looked to introduce some freshness and energy into the team.
Shaw’s marauding runs a boost for United
With Pogba moved back out to the left-hand side West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal probably thought he was not going to be troubled with many runs in behind him.
However, he was consistently penned back in his own half by Luke Shaw, who appeared to be marauding forward a lot more often than usual.
His overlapping runs were a constant menace to the Czech Republic international, who did not get many opportunities to drive forward.
The England international was arguably United’s danger man in the first half hour, as he was a constant menace to the Czech Republic international.
His darting runs in behind also relieved Pogba of his defensive responsibilities, as Pablo Fornals chose to drift inside rather than exploit the space left by Shaw.
This afforded Pogba more freedom to roam around the pitch and look for the ball, where he was able to link up with the likes of Ronaldo, Fernandes, and Greenwood.
Bruno and Ronaldo's partnership
Bruno and Ronaldo did not appear to be on the same page when they were deployed together for Portugal in Euro 2020.
Fernando Santos was not comfortable playing both players at the same time during the summer, resulting in Fernandes being reduced to the role of impact substitute.
However, the Portuguese pair look to have formed a telepathic partnership; combining to drag United back into the contest.
Fernandes did not even need to look up when he swung in an inch perfect cross onto Ronaldo’s head.
It also helps the former Real Madrid and Juventus striker instinctively knows exactly where he needs to be to find the back of the net.
They dug United out of a hole at the London Stadium, and if this performance is anything to go by, it will not be the first time they do so.
- Premier League
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
- Manchester United FC
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