Manchester United earned another much-needed victory on Saturday ahead of the international break.
Their 1-0 win wasn’t entirely convincing but at the moment fans will take anything they can get.
That win means United have picked up more points than anyone in the Premier League over the last five matches, winning four and losing one. The performances haven’t merited that although as things stand, they are the ‘in-form’ team. And with close rivals dropping points over the weekend, it leaves the Reds sixth in the league, five points behind Spurs in 4th spot.
It was yet again a defender who got United over the line. Victor Lindelof’s second-half goal was enough on the day to claim all three points at Old Trafford. Luton did defend well but United were once again poor in front of goal. Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Marcus Rashford all had big chances but were unable to convert.
The last forward to score a Premier League goal at Old Trafford was Jadon Sancho in a 2-1 win over Fulham on the final day of last season. A lack of goals from the front line has been a running theme so far this season.
As mentioned before, the Reds find themselves sixth in the league, however, they do have a goal difference of minus three, having scored 13 and conceding 16. Only Manchester United in their current turmoil could pull off such a confusing feat.
The win over Luton was desperately required following the Red's collapse to FC Copenhagen in the Champions League. A terrific opening 40 minutes was undone by a ridiculous red card for Marcus Rashford and completely altered the course of the game.
To stand any chance of qualification Ten Hag’s men need to win their final two group stage games away to Galatasaray and a home tie against Bayern Munich, not impossible but just adds more pressure onto the Reds.
Qualification would be ideal, but it would take a huge resurgence and given their performances it would be hard to argue they fully deserve it. Although the defeat to Copenhagen was one where the Reds were hard done by the ridiculous red card decision.
The international break is another chance for Ten Hag to reassess how he and his team progress this season. And it edges closer to the return of Johnny Evans, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia from injury, Shaw’s absence has been felt in particular.
Rasmus Hojlund and Christian Eriksen both sustained injuries on Saturday and have been withdrawn from the Denmark squad. It’s unlucky and United have been overwhelmed by injuries this campaign.
Perhaps this will provide Mason Mount with a run of games in the starting line-up. The England international has yet to fully announce himself at Old Trafford since his move from Chelsea, but this could be the break he’s been waiting for.
Despite their inconsistent performances, it doesn’t appear that United are a team devoid of team spirit. The celebrations for Lindelof’s goal saw the players huddled and embracing one another. And despite the speculation around Ten Hag’s future, it doesn’t seem like he has ‘lost’ the dressing room.
When United do return they’ll need to show the same resolute they had last season. If they can continue to grind out results it may reduce the scrutiny and potentially build confidence. And I may sound like a broken record, but they need to start scoring more goals.
The Reds next take on Everton at Goodison Park before a tough run of games against Galatasaray, Newcastle, and Chelsea. Not too much of a tall order for the most in-form team in the Premier League.