Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 win away at Everton to record their first win at Goodison Park in four years in one of their best performances under Louis van Gaal.
The Reds took the Toffees by storm, scoring twice in the opening 20 minutes and really taking the game by the horns. Man United were first to every ball and controlled the midfield with ease as they controlled the match from start to finish. Despite United’s poor record at Goodison Park, the performance didn’t come as a surprise, for the simple fact that van Gaal picked his best possible midfield for the first time.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin began the game in the two holding midfield positions, while Ander Herrera, one of the best players on the pitch on the day, played as the No.10 – a position in which he has flourished.
The trio complimented each other perfectly. Schneiderlin was box-to-box all game, helping shield the defence as well as getting forward (which we saw with the opening goal which he calmly slotted away). Schweinsteiger was the metronome in the middle of the park who found pockets of space and got United to pass the ball around. The German was, as you would expect, extremely efficient and allowed his side to dictate the pace of the game. It was Schneiderlin’s constant hassling in midfield that enabled Schweinsteiger to get into space and have time on the ball.
Ahead of them, Herrera was relentless. Starting behind Wayne Rooney, the Spaniard allowed United to press high up the field with his energy and his neat interplay with the likes of Rooney, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata showed why he is such a delightful player.
All three midfielders seemed to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. They all knew their own roles and carried them out with perfection. Whether the manager decides to stick with the 4-2-3-1 or switch to his traditional 4-3-3 formation, it’s in United’s interest to keep this trio together wherever possible.
Not once at Goodison did we see a midfielder overwhelmed in the middle of the park or unable to get himself involved in the game. United’s three in the middle of the park took control and really proved their worth. There was a stark difference in the energy in midfield against Everton, as compared to the shambles of a performance at the Emirates Stadium before the international break. Neither Schneiderlin nor Herrera were in the starting lineup that day and Saturday’s display just shows how crucial they are to the team.
Michael Carrick is the one to get left out of the midfield but, at 34, that may be for the best. The Englishman is still one of the best players to bring on when trying to see out a game or re-gain a foothold and he could be the perfect midfielder off the bench.
It will be interesting to see who van Gaal decides on as his first choice midfield. Herrera, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin have certainly raised the bar and United fans would love to see more of the same from the victory against Everton.