Ahead of the November international break, Manchester United hosted Premier League newcomers Luton Town at Old Trafford.
Fresh off a defeat in the Champions League against FC Copenhagen, no doubt Erik ten Hag would have been keen to send his players away to their national teams with a win and some much-needed confidence.
He started Andre Onana in goal with a defensive four of Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Sergio Reguilon ahead of the shot-stopper.
Christian Eriksen was given the nod as United’s deepest-lying midfielder with Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes alongside him in the middle of the park.
Rasmus Hojlund started up front with Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho flanking him on either side. Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-0 win against Luton Town.
United extremely wasteful in the first half
As expected, United dominated the game against Rob Edwards’ men.
The Red Devils had the majority of possession and of course, fashioned the most clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
Unfortunately for Ten Hag and his players, they went down the tunnel with proceedings still level.
Hojlund had a glorious chance to open the score when he got on the end of a cross from Rashford, but the Dane could not make a clean enough connection to guide the ball past Thomas Kaminski in goal.
Apart from that, Hojlund had a few other opportunities to get on the score sheet, most of which came with his back to goal, but the 20-year-old goalscorer could not make one stick.
Fernandes also found himself in good positions, mostly just on the edge of the Luton Town box, but he sent all his shots well over the bar. He could not tame his efforts to give his side a lead.
Garnacho perhaps had the most glorious chance to score when he came on on one with the goalkeeper but the Argentine hesitated and scuffed his opportunity.
The Carrington academy graduate also had other openings to score, primarily through his cutting in from the left and trying to shoot with his right foot. Unfortunately, he could not find his mark.
There were other half-chances from set pieces and crosses inside the box.
At times this season, United’s inability to finish their chances, especially early in games, has dearly cost them and no doubt, this is something Ten Hag will be quick to point out and urgently address.
Rashford a far better option on the right compared to Antony
For the second match in a row, Ten Hag benched Antony and started Rashford on the right.
The Dutch coach was unable to see how this tactical change would work out against FC Copenhagen as Rashford was sent off after receiving a straight red card – he certainly got a better understanding of it against Luton.
So far this term, Antony has proved to be one of the club’s poorest performers and it’s no surprise he’s currently out of favour with respect to being a starter.
Not to say that Rashford has been significantly better than the Brazilian but he undoubtedly offered much more.
Rashford put in good crosses inside the box in an attempt to find the likes of Hojlund and McTominay – Antony has often been accused of refusing to cross in favour of going for a shot.
For Lindelof’s opening goal, Rashford put in a stunning cross from the right side, which pinged off a United player to land on the path of Lindelof.
The Swede made no mistake as he produced a powerful finish to break the deadlock.
In addition to this, Rashford constantly took his man on and was successful to a decent degree, considering the right wing is hardly his favoured position.
The 26-year-old also looked much more involved in the game and was dangerous. Ten Hag will also be pleased that he combined well with Dalot who has so far struggled to create a potent connection with the uninspiring Antony.
Antony came on in the 67th minute for Garnacho, prompting Rashford to be restored to the left wing.
Injury problems worsening for Ten Hag
Following United’s recent confirmation that Jonny Evans is set to be out for a number of weeks with a thigh injury, supporters would have been hoping that no more players would be sidelined.
However, in the first half, Eriksen went off injured and had to be replaced.
The most worrying thing is that no one was near Eriksen when he went down. He could not carried on and had to be replaced by Mason Mount.
Just as has been typical this season, Hojlund also sustained what seemed to be a hamstring injury in the 77th minute.
The young goalscorer stayed down on the floor until it became apparent a change was necessary.
Martial came on in his place.
United have struggled with injuries to key players this term and both Ten Hag and fans will be waiting with bated breath to find out the extent of the injuries sustained by Hojlund and Eriksen.
Already, stars such as Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez, Amad Diallo and Evans are out.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed the Luton game due to an illness. Hojlund and Eriksen seem set to be the latest additions to United’s extensive injury list.
Hopefully, the international breaks allows some players to make their respective returns to action.