Manchester United finally got their opening Premier League win of the season with a convincing 4-0 win against QPR. Dan Dalton discusses the the main talking points from Sunday’s encounter.
1. Angel Di Maria provided much needed pace and penetration
The former Real Madrid midfielder was outstanding on his home debut for the Red Devils. The 26-year-old scored the opener after a dangerous left footed delivery found its way into the back of the net while he also provided pace and running ability from deep positions, which QPR struggled to deal with.
The Argentine international drifted from a left centre midfield role to attack the left wing and he offers United the ability to carry the ball at frightening pace. QPR often choose to stand off the Argentine in wide positions allowing Di Maria to pick passes easily.
Di Maria’s ability to vary his game is quite impressive as he can either use his pace and directness; he also has the ability to pick passes with a very precise left foot.
2. Daley Blind’s future is in midfield
The 24-year-old Dutchman als0 had a very impressive debut. Praised by many in Holland for his tactical awareness, the former Ajax man sat in a deep lying midfield role and was excellent as he helped United control the centre of midfield.
Blind seemed to always be in space and positionally he impressed as he was always available to receieve the ball. If Blind can replicate this performance when teams try to press United high up the pitch, they have a midfielder capable of adding the stability and control needed in their midfield.
The 24-year-0ld seems the perfect option to link the play from defence to midfield areas. It was certainly an encouraging display for the former Ajax midfielder.
3. Herrera provides energy in midfield
Ander Herrera demonstrated the form he showed last year for Atletico Madrid. He showed tenacity and energy in midfield and while sometimes sloppy in posession, the 25-year-old Spaniard is an all-action type of midfielder who will suit the Premier League.
United looked impressive in midfield as Daley Blind sat to control the game while Di Maria and Herrera offered more running ability and while Herrera is the not the quickest his clever late runs into attacking areas were difficult for QPR to track.
4. United look more comfortable playing 4-4-2
United look much more cohesive and fluid in a 4-4-2 diamond but Louis Van Gaal did state that due to injuries he has reverted to the more conventional four at the back.
“I could hardly play with five defenders because [Chris] Smalling and [Phil] Jones were injured. I would have to have played a right-footed player on the right of defence.
“I was forced to play four defenders, but I know that the quality of the players allowed me to play this way.”
Luke Shaw was also surprisingly not introduced and he may now not be an automatic starter in this side. Interestingly Van Gaal did opt to start Rafael in a right back slot after he just returned from injury but did not choose to use Shaw at all, which could perhaps be an indication that he has not been impressed by the left back who excelled with Southampton last season.
It will be intesting to see if United opt to use a 4-4-2 in their next game and after a convincing performance Van Gaal may stick with four at the back.
5. QPR struggled to cope in midfield
United fans should not get carried away with this performance as although it was encouraging it was clear to see that QPR struggled badly in midfield; Sandro and Leroy Fer were clearly not in good physical condition.
Harry Redknapp will probably regret starting the two new signings but in the long-run they should provide QPR with strong central midfield, however in Sunday’s game they lacked the sharpness to get close to United in midfield.
Redknapp spoke about the pair to Sky Sports in a post match interview.
“It’s like all of these players when you take them away, like (Leroy) Fer, it’s fitness.
“He’s been away for two weeks with Holland, he’s played one 90 minutes I think since May. They need to get fit, we need to get them fit.
“Sandro hasn’t been playing, he needs to get fit. It’s a problem.
“In the international break, with Fer, he didn’t play in the two games for Holland, he’s probably stood around all week. We need to get them up and running.
“Sandro is the same, he just felt his calf was a little bit tight.”
QPR struggled to cope with the energy of Di Maria and Herrera but when the likes of Sandro and Leroy Fer are match fit they would have good options in central midfield with Joey Barton to return from injury.
Dan Dalton, Pundit Arena.