Manchester United beat Watford 3-0 on Sunday afternoon to move into fifth place and keep their Champions League hopes intact.
The two teams came into the game out of form in terms of their recent Premier League results and it was the away side who made the better start.
After they wasted several good openings, however, United took the lead shortly before the break with Bruno Fernandes netting his first goal for the club from the penalty spot.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Troy Deeney had a goal ruled out by VAR for handball, shortly before United made the points safe thanks to a cool finish from Anthony Martial and another from Mason Greenwood.
Here are five things we learned from the game at Old Trafford.
Mistakes and missed chances
Early on it was all aoout Watford’s press and United’s inability to pass out from the back, with the intensity and accuracy on show from either side giving no clue as to what lay ahead.
Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Nemanja Matic and David de Gea were all guilty of conceding easy possession outside their own penalty box, which resulted in several good chances for the away team.
Troy Deeney was the biggest culprit, failing to even shoot when presented with a sight of an open goal, while Abdoulaye Doucoure also had a chance to score.
Watford didn’t take any of their chances in that first spell when their energy and organisation had them on top – and it cost them dear after the break.
Bruno Fernandes making the difference already
As the game wore on, one player stood out far above the rest in terms of on-the-ball quality and vision in the pass.
Bruno Fernandes scored his first United goal, yes, but it was his ongoing influence in open play which yielded the most reason for optimism for Man United supporters.
Some tremendous through passes opened the Watford defence up with regularity, while others pushed his team up the pitch even when they didn’t quite come off.
Give him movement ahead of him in the final third and Fernandes will create plenty of chances – just as he did in setting up Greenwood’s goal.
Consistency and the prizes it brings
Two wins in succession: something United have found hard to achieve this season in the league, but something they’ve done this week.
And the results are tangible, with six points putting them just three behind Chelsea and one place below the top four.
Spurs have been overtaken, as have Sheffield United, and if rivals Man City have their European ban upheld, even United’s current position will be enough to return to the Champions League.
Consistency is critical, and now comes a testing run of games against Everton, City, Sheffield United and Spurs, with cup competitions scattered throughout. Two in a row is a start, but only a start.
Shaw and steady progress
Fernandes impressed in midfield, but he wasn’t the only good performer for United, particularly after the break.
Luke Shaw won plaudits for his performances on the left of a back three recently, and here he kept his place after a return to a four-man defence.
At full-back he was defensively diligent, covering inside more than once to snuff out danger, while going forward he linked well and kept the width when he needed.
A return to top form for Shaw would be welcomed by many, especially after some uneven recent displays from Brandan Williams.
Pearson bounce well and truly over?
Nigel Pearson made a great start to life at Watford, but a run of seven games unbeaten in all competitions looks a distant sight in the rearview mirror right now.
This defeat makes it six without a win, four of which have been defeats, with the end of the season drawing ever closer.
Watford remain in the relegation zone and they, along with Bournemouth and Norwich, suffered the worst damage to their goal difference of the threatened sides over the weekend.
A tough run of fixtures continues with Liverpool up next and Pearson will need to find a way to encourage his side to show much more of the first 30 minutes at Old Trafford, and far less of the last 30, if they are to survive.
Source: Read Full Article