Five talking points from United v Chelsea
Manchester United made a barnstorming start to the season with a 4-0 Old Trafford victory against Chelsea and here are five talking points from the dream opener...
RASHFORD IS SPOT ON WITH OLE
When you have scored a last-gasp goal from the spot in a Champions League away match in Paris against legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, then clearly nothing fazes you.
So it was a great shout for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to hand Marcus Rashford the penalty duties on the opening day of the Premier League season.
The United boss will know better than most what a goal on your personal stats column does for confidence. Strikers feed off that confidence, no matter if it is a screamer, a poached goal or a 12-yard spot-kick. With Rashford as one of the Reds' main men up front it was a cute choice by Solksjaer.
Paul Pogba scored United’s last penalties in competition against West Ham last April when he converted twice but Rashford got Ole’s vote and he didn’t let him down against Chelsea with a cool finish to put United 1-0 ahead after 18 minutes.
Settling himself down to score from the spot proved critical when he was brilliantly put through by Pogba in the 66th minute to take the ball down in his stride and finish ruthlessly for number three.
WHEN HARRY MET PALLY
Harry Maguire has been placed in a very similar position to the one Gary Pallister found himself in in 1989.
A record transfer fee may be a burden on his shoulders and it's a United side in transformation. Pally didn’t have the best of starts, with a home defeat to Norwich City springing to mind, but grew quickly into a dominant stalwart.
Maguire looks like he’ll follow in those footsteps and the Reds can confidently build a base from his assured nature and organisational abilities. The instant he wrestled Tammy Abraham off the ball and set United on the way to the crucial second goal in the 65th minute, you felt he'd arrived.
He has got off to a more stable start than Pallister all those years ago, which could mean an even faster settling down period for the England centre-back.
If he proves as good value as Pally, and the very early signs suggest he will, then United have got another winner.
KEEPING UP WITH THE PACK
It's very early days but nobody among the opening weekend’s Premier League top-six wanted to be the loser from day one.
That was the psychological danger facing both United and Chelsea when they kicked off at Old Trafford.
Liverpool won on Friday night against Norwich. Manchester City followed up with their victory at West Ham, Spurs continued with the Saturday teatime victory against Aston Villa. And, just before the Reds and the Londoners took centre stage, Arsenal triumphed at Newcastle.
Whoever lost this one was going to be on the back foot immediately and Solskjaer’s side’s ultimately convincing win ensured United were not the back markers on the first lap.
GOAL RUSH WAS A PERFECT ANSWER
Much has been made in the press and on social media among fans about whether or not United had been left a tad lightweight in the goals department following the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.
Solskjaer has put his faith in the youthful strike quality of Rashford and Anthony Martial.
For them to share three of United's goals in the success against rivals Chelsea was a huge boost for the Reds going forward. Clinical and confident from the Englishman and the Frenchman was just what Ole ordered.
And a goal for new boy Daniel James was the icing on a perfectly baked cake.
A NEW SET-PIECE THREAT FROM UNITED
United have been criticised in recent campaigns for the lack of invention and danger at set-pieces but it was clear from day one that there has been plenty of training ground work done to ensure it becomes more of an opportunity than an Achilles heel.
Most notably was the England-style line-up at corner kicks, where three or four Reds, waited behind one another before splitting at the crucial moment the flag-kick was delivered.
It was pretty much out of the Gareth Southgate World Cup textbook in 2018 which proved successful for the Three Lions.
Crucial to the tactic in Russia was Harry Maguire and his height and power looks set to be a key component now for United. We also worked a central free-kick wide when Andreas Pereira ignored the obvious option and instead fed Aaron Wan-Bissaka.