Manchester United travelled to Elland Road to face Leeds United for the second time in the same week as they looked to come away with more points from the one collected at home from the 2-2 draw.
Erik ten Hag wanted a better performance following a sloppy start to both halves in the reverse fixture.
With Antony, Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen all out injured, the manager had another selection dilemma as he looked to rest some of the key players with the Europa League fixture vs. Barcelona kick-starting next Thursday.
It was another slow start for Man United
Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Ten Hag spoke about the sloppy start after conceding a goal inside the first minute on Wednesday.
Ten Hag: "We slept in the first five minutes of each half [at Old Trafford]. Hopefully we have learnt from it and are better today. It was magnificent how we came back on Wednesday, that has to inspire and motivate us." [sky]
— utdreport (@utdreport) February 12, 2023
He said “We slept in the first five minutes of each half [at Old Trafford]. Hopefully we have learnt from it and are better today.”
However, the Red Devils had a disastrous first half and failed to get going until the closing minutes of the opening 45.
It’s clear to see that the same problems are continuing following the absence of legendary defensive midfielder Casemiro as he serves the second of his three match ban.
As they did on Wednesday, Fernandes, Fred and Sabitzer all started in the middle of the park but failed to perform against an enthusiastic Leeds.
The only improvement on the last match was that United didn’t concede two goals in the first half and managed to keep the ball from going past David de Gea.
Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford looked the brightest players on the pitch in the first half with Garnacho coming on in the second half with a couple of great spells.
The start to the second half was even more shocking as Leeds found themselves playing in United’s half with a couple of wasted chances.
No communication between the defence and David de Gea
Despite the 0-0 scoreline in the first half, the same old problems when Harry Maguire and David de Gea are on the same team sheet started to reappear.
Towards the end of the first half, Leeds almost scored after United’s defence found themselves scrambling to clear the ball.
It wasn’t until the captain kicked it out of play that normal service had been restored but it was clear to see that no one was communicating with each other.
In recent matches, it has been refreshing to see Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane flourishing in their partnership.
Both defenders were clearly missed tonight as Luke Shaw and Maguire failed to look impressive at centre-back.
United were lucky enough to escape Leeds with a clean sheet and a win after sloppy defensive performances.
Weghorst with another unconvincing performance in attack
It might be time for Ten Hag to switch up his forward positions as United travel to Spain to face Barcelona in the Europa League.
The Dutch international currently occupying the striker position in the absence of Anthony Martial has failed to score in the Premier League so far.
In fact, he has been declining each match and looking lost and confused as the clock ticks on.
It’s clear that the manager’s tactics do not play to Weghorst’s strengths and that seems to be having an impact on United’s setup.
However, he managed to assist Garnacho’s outstanding goal in the second half after switching to a deeper role, which seemed to work.
It will be a massive risk to continue Weghorst in the striker position or in a role that he is not used to in a big European match.
Anthony Martial being injury-prone is starting to get even more irritating with teams around United in the table failing to win matches.
Garnacho and Rashford the difference makers
After a tough performance at home for the young Argentine winger, today was great for the 18-year-old who responded with a superb goal after being substituted on in the second half.
He looked extremely motivated as he made several runs down the left-wing until finding the back of the net in the 85th minute.
Once the substitutions were made, Rashford switched on after a poor first half playing on the left wing.
His goal in the 80th minute turned the game around and ultimately provided United with some motivation as they secured a 2-0 win.
Ten Hag will be hoping for a better performance in both halves vs. Barcelona next week as they look to progress to the next round of the Europa League.