Five talking points from United's win
Manchester United hit the ground running again in the Premier League with a convincing 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
Here are the key talking points as Erik ten Hag’s men stormed to three points at a wet Old Trafford…
VARANE LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Raphael Varane was a talking point prior to the game when he was named in the starting line-up just nine days after his World Cup heartbreak with France in Qatar. The Frenchman earned the plaudits of his manager, who labelled him a ‘leader’ who takes responsibility. He was called upon after illness affected both Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, with the England international making the bench.
And just as we’ve come to expect from Varane, it was yet another top-drawer performance from the 29-year-old who was cool, calm and collected all evening, leading the way alongside Luke Shaw.
STRAIGHT FROM THE TRAINING GROUND
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Our opening goal against Forest was the epitome of exactly that. Christian Eriksen’s perfectly timed ball into the box was met by the oncoming Rashford, who escaped the huddle of players without detection and stroked the ball into the back of the net. From start to finish, it was an utterly sublime move crafted wonderfully by United.
Both Rashford and Martial are loving life under United boss Ten Hag, and the numbers are supporting the claim. With three goals and two assists in the Premier League, Martial has already bettered his record in all competitions for United last season. Rashford, likewise, has trumped his league tally from last season, and his goal involvements against Forest brings his current campaign to five goals and three assists. There are few better things than watching these two in full flow for us, especially when they’re combining together, as they did tonight.
What else is there to say about Casemiro? He is a world-class midfielder, plain and simple. The Brazilian was in a makeshift centre-back role against Burnley in our first game back after the World Cup, but he returned to his spot in the middle of the park against Forest. He was instrumental in our second goal with an excellent sliding tackle to win the ball back, kickstarting the move that would end in Martial doubling our lead in the 22nd minute.
That wasn't his only goal involvement, either. Casemiro read the game excellently late on to intercept the ball and play a well-weighted pass into the path of second-half substitute Fred, who finished with complete composure. It also created a bit of history, marking the first time in Premier League history that two Brazilians have combined for a goal for Manchester United. Whether we're defending or attacking, Casemiro is everywhere. He keeps putting in these colossal performances.
1 - Casemiro's assist for Fred's goal was the first time that two Brazilian players have combined for a Manchester United goal in the Premier League. Compatriot. pic.twitter.com/qcW7nPpQ2S— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 27, 2022
LEFT CENTRE-BACK SHAW
From our own goal to our opposition's, it was a truly dominant display from Ten Hag’s men this evening. Our back four, plus David De Gea, did an excellent job at keeping Forest at bay, but a special mention deserves to go to Shaw. He partnered Varane for the first 77 minutes of the game, and saw the remainder out alongside Harry Maguire, and was faultless. It was not his natural position, but his experience playing in a left-centre-back role in a five-man backline previously shone through and he was particularly good in transitional moments, reading the game well and helping us on our way to a well-earned clean sheet.