Manchester United’s revival of form continued with a 2-0 win over Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday. The Red Devils were in control throughout the evening as they hardly gave any chance to the Baggies and with Zlatan Ibrahimović scoring on either side of the half-time break.
It was the third consecutive win for Jose Mourinho’s men, after having tasted success against Tottenham and Crystal Palace in the last week. The win sees them level on points with Spurs, albeit still in 6th position due to the Lilywhites’ better goal difference. The Baggies too remained in their 7th position despite the loss, but that could change as the weekend progresses.
In what was a dominant display by United, we take a look at three major talking points from the game:
Rojo and Jones have been brilliant
It was another solid display in defence by Manchester United on Saturday as Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo continue to impress everyone with their no-nonsense, aggressive defending.
Jones, returning from injury, has been nothing short of brilliant so far and has defended with such vigour and grit that, you can see why Sir Alex rated him so highly. His confidence with the ball at his feet has also been excellent and has looked very comfortable bringing the ball out from the back. With Bailly out due to injury for some more time, Jones will continue to feature regularly and is likely to nail the spot for himself.
Rojo too is playing like a champion in the backline for United. So much so that, Mourinho came out in praise of the Argentine, saying he was playing the best football of his life for United this term. And he is spot on with that assessment. After several seasons of inconsistent displays, Rojo is starting to show why United bought him in 2014-15. His physical approach, his aggressive tackling reminds you of the old-school defending that you rarely see nowadays, while he is equally good at distributing the ball from the back.
Together they have been the cornerstone for United’s recent surge in form and will continue to play key roles.
Salomon Rondon’s slap on Marcos Rojo
It was a frustrating night for the West Brom players as they struggled to break down the United defence. Especially so for their leading man Salomon Rondon. After scoring a hat-trick within 13 minutes, in the midweek fixture against Swansea City, the Venezuelan cut a frustrated figure at the Hawthorns as he was completely deprived of service with United shackling the Baggies very well.
His frustration at the lack of opportunities seemed to boil over at one point as he had a go at the Red Devils defender Marcos Rojo. After having been completely outplayed by the Argentine, Rondon seemed to lose it as he confronted the Argentine with words and Rojo did not shy away which led to the West Brom striker shoving him. It got really ugly thereafter as he appeared to slap Rojo which led to Phil Jones also getting involved in the fracas. However, referee Anthony Taylor did not seem to spot the attempted slap and showed a yellow card to both players.
Did it warrant a red card? The referee did not think so, neither did Jose Mourinho after the match. Will retrospective action be taken against Rondon? We will have to wait and see.
Chance for United to break into the top four
Manchester United have been really impressive over the past few weeks, and the results are finally going their way meaning the Red Devils have notched up three consecutive wins in the league now.
With the win, they came level with 5th placed Spurs on points although the Londoners have a game in hand. But with a winnable set of fixtures for Mourinho’s men up ahead, they could really turn the heat up on the top four sides.
United play relegation-threatened Sunderland next at Old Trafford, followed by fixtures against Middlesbrough at home and West Ham United away with Hull City visiting the Theatre of Dreams after that. Four wins out of these four games could see them break into the Champions League spots as the competition starts to get into the crucial stages.