Manchester United returned to action after the World Cup break, this time in the Carabao Cup against Vincent Kompany’s Burnley side.
After a lengthy spell without club football, United looked to advance to the next round of the cup and had to get past Championship opposition.
Erik ten Hag fielded a relatively strong starting XI, that saw many of United’s first teamers who were eliminated from the World Cup restored to the team after their tournament participation.
Martin Dubravka started in goal ahead of David de Gea who was on the bench. Ahead of the Slovak, Casemiro and Victor Lindelof formed the centre-back pairing. Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were the fullbacks.
The midfield trio consisted of Scott McTominay at the heart of midfield, with Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen slightly in front of him. Anthony Martial led the line with Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho on either side of him.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s Carabao Cup win against Burnley.
Outstanding first half
The Red Devils were exceptional in the opening 45 minutes which saw them go into the break a goal up against the Clarets.
United drew first blood courtesy of Eriksen who got on the end of a brilliant cross from Wan-Bissaka to fire the ball into the back of the net.
United in total had six shots with four being on target, compared to Burnley’s paltry two shots with only one challenging Dubravka.
Ten Hag’s men also mustered more possession than Burnley. 54% to 46%.
Defensively, United were tight at the back and looked impenetrable throughout the first half. The team created a multitude of chances, mostly through Fernandes, which in truth should have been converted.
A number of players were lively – a promising indication just days after the World Cup. Rashford was a threat throughout the first half, with his runs in behind causing all sorts of problems to the Burnley defence. Martial also caused problems to the opposition.
Kompany’s players also had to contend with a tricky and pacy Garnacho who always looked to make things happen. Undoubtedly, Ten Hag would have been pleased with his side’s stellar showing during the first 45 despite the lack of clinical nature in front of goal.
Casemiro showed his class and versatility
The Brazilian proved his worth in a familiar yet unnatural position, where he excelled to great effect.
Casemiro was the leader of the defence, evidenced by his constant dishing out of instructions to his accomplices at the back.
He made numerous blocks and interceptions, that any world-class central defender would be proud of. Casemiro covered the spaces well and was an assuring presence throughout the game.
The thing that stuck out of his display, however, was his superior technical ability on the ball. Casemiro passed the ball out from the back superbly and whenever he went long, always found a red shirt to deliver it to.
The biggest compliment that can be paid to the five-time Champions League winner is that he was a standout operator in an area of the pitch he’s not particularly used to, and ensured United fans were not ruing Varane’s or Lisandro Martinez’s absence.
Rashford is confident and firing
Rashford produced a scintillating performance throughout the 85 minutes he was on the pitch, from all three positions in the forward line.
He started on the right, moved to the left when Antony came in for Garnacho before being moved to the centre when Anthony Elanga was introduced into proceedings in Martial’s place.
Rashford, who enjoyed a brilliant personal World Cup campaign with England, scored a brilliant goal from the right wing when he picked up the ball from near the halfway line, raced into the Burnley box before he brushed off two defenders with a fine skill and rifled the ball into the bottom-left corner.
Minutes later he produced another sublime bit of skill to go past Burnley’s defenders, this time from the left flank.
The 25-year-old made multiple runs and showed just why Ten Hag is desperate to tie him down to a new long-term deal at Old Trafford.
The attacker seems to have picked up where he left off before the break and hopefully, can go on in the same fashion. The team will massively benefit from a confident Rashford who when in form can be unplayable.