A late four-minute blitz saw Manchester United turn a precarious one-goal advantage against Swansea City into an ominous 4-0 result away from home on Saturday.
Eric Bailly scored the opener late in the first-half, stabbing home after Paul Pogba struck the crossbar with a header from a corner kick, but the rest of the goals came between the 80th and 84th minute.
Jose Mourinho claimed United lacked a ‘killer instinct’ last season. This time around, the Red Devils do seem to have their tails up.
It was hardly a 4-0 game though in the early kick-off at the Liberty Stadium, but United just had another gear and used it to hit the Swans like a freight train.
Instead of shutting up shop and seeing out the result, and perhaps even conceding late on in the process, the visitors showed the bite and desire to put the game beyond the reach of Paul Clement’s side.
A huge part of that is down to Mourinho’s strategic use of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Just like in the 4-0 opening day win at Old Trafford last week, Rashford impressed from the start before being replaced by Martial who then swept things up.
The England international was threatening and industrious as ever, plugging away at Swansea and should have scored in the opening period but his chipped finish went straight at the keeper.
He was brought off in the 75th minute, giving Martial a quarter of an hour to run at the opposition at full tilt.
The Frenchman didn’t disappoint.
First, he combined with Henrikh Mkhitaryan to set-up Romelu Lukaku for the second goal five minutes after his introduction.
Then, he latched on to a pass from Pogba on the counter-attack, driving into the heart of Swansea’s defence with irresistible pace before rolling a neat finish into the corner for the fourth goal.
His impact off the bench was almost identical to the one he produced against West Ham United, as was Rashford’s shift from the start.
The 19-year-old is better suited to break teams down with his relentless runs, clever link-up play and overall contribution while the former Monaco man can take full advantage when the game is more stretched with the opposition coming on to United.
Rashford absolutely terrorised Pablo Zabaleta last week and the Argentine was shown no mercy when he left the pitch as Martial showed up to finish the job.
Mourinho’s use of the two exciting forwards ensures that United’s attack are never short of pace and the opposition is given no respite on that left flank.
The ploy to replace Juan Mata with Marouane Fellaini for the final 15 minutes has also worked well for Mourinho in the first two fixtures.
The Belgian’s inclusion allows Pogba to play in a more advanced role. It resulted in the Frenchman scoring against the Hammers last week while he added a goal and an assist after Fellaini came on at the Liberty Stadium.
However, if Ander Herrera reclaims a starting berth moving forward, Pogba may well enjoy a more attacking role from the onset of games with Mata the man sacrificed.
The Rashford-Martial rotation on the other hand looks like something that could serve United through a large chunk of this season, providing Mourinho with the perfect one-two punch to floor their rivals.
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