Manchester United kicked off their FA campaign against Everton, with Erik ten Hag keen on building on a brilliant winning streak to mount a victory over Frank Lampard’s side.
Ten Hag fielded a strong starting XI against the struggling Toffees. Raphael Varane and Tyrell Malacia came in for Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof. Luke Shaw was restored to the centre-back position with Malacia pushed to the left flank.
Antony started ahead of Alejandro Garnacho with the Brazilian back from injury.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 win against Everton.
Decent first half
United got off to the perfect start, with Antony finding the back of the net within four minutes of proceedings.
Anthony Martial picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch and passed it to Marcus Rashford, who sent a brilliant ball across the face of the gaping Everton goal.
A sliding Antony was all but happy to open his FA account on his debut in the competition.
Ten minutes later, a horrendous David de Gea howler allowed Everton back into the game. The Spaniard’s mishap ensured Conor Coady had an easy tap-in to level matters.
United went into the break with 56% possession compared to Everton’s 44%. The Reds also had 10 shots at goal, but only three were on target. Everton on the other hand had only two shots with their goal the only one on target.
Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes were barely in the game and had little to no impact which left Casemiro with too much to do.
United allowed Everton too many transitions, especially through Demarai Gray. On another day, a more formidable team would have made United pay for their mistakes.
United also found it difficult to break down Everton’s stubbornly rigid low-block and at a point in the first half, the team resorted to shots from long range.
What will have undoubtedly angered Ten Hag is that what was a dream start that could have provided the platform to bury the game early on and destroy the opposition to oblivion, a sloppy mistake made the game more of a 50/50 and even gave Everton a ray of hope heading into the second half.
De Gea error a reminder that more is needed
If any United fan had reserved their doubts about De Gea and got comfortable in the knowledge that he should be a guaranteed starter next season onwards, his error was a reminder that it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion.
By no means does De Gea’s error tonight discount how brilliant he’s been over the last few weeks and even before that. The shot-stopper has shown definite improvement under Ten Hag.
However, as witnessed against Everton, De Gea is still prone to making grave mistakes that are costly to the team.
That the Red Devils need another high-calibre and more modern goalkeeper to come in during the summer and compete with the 32-year-old is indisputable.
It could very well be that a ready-made sweeper keeper that’s excellent with his feet helps the team kick up a few extra levels. Ten Hag has a decision to make, with De Gea currently in the last year of his contract.
Whether he leaves or stays, another goalkeeper that can sufficiently compete for the number one jersey should be procured.
Eriksen below par
One of United’s non-influential players against Everton was Eriksen.
The Dane failed at his primary responsibility in the middle of the park – controlling the tempo of the game and keeping things ticking for United.
United lost control in certain instances of the match, with the game on a knife’s edge at times.
Eriksen lost many of his duels and seemed to struggle keeping with the pace and physical dynamism of Abdoulaye Doucouré and Amadou Onana.
The United man appeared lethargic and bereft of the exquisite passing that has endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful.
It was no surprise that with the game a much more feisty affair, he was substituted off with Ten Hag bringing on Scott McTominay to see out the last 10 minutes.