Manchester United returned to winning ways, overcoming fellow Premier League strugglers Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The scoreline does not tell the whole story as the hosts could have scored five or six on the night, while also could have conceded three.
Manager Erik ten Hag will be pleased with the intensity shown by his team after a lethargic display at the weekend which helped the side get all three points after all the pressure that had been heaped on him during the week by the British media.
An open, and entertaining contest, the game was ultimately decided by the United boss’ brave calls regarding team selection and with his impactful substitution.
ETH made the right selection calls
Forgoing the urge to keep playing Marcus Rashford who is currently looking like a shadow of the player that was top scorer last season, the manager was right to trust Antony on the right and play the in-form Alejandro Garnacho on the left, both of whom put in impressive displays.
The Brazilian has endured a tough time this season and he might not have contributed with a goal or assist, but he defended admirably when needed and was a constant menace while attacking.
He won a penalty which skipper Bruno Fernandes missed but he did not let his head drop after that and kept going, a sharp cry from what the boss saw from his forwards against Newcastle.
As for the Argentine, he was a constant thorn in the Blues’ side and he could have grabbed a couple of goals himself if not for some good saves from Robert Sanchez.
He keeps showing immense bravery and is not afraid to keep trying even when things are not coming off for him, a great trait to have as a winger.
The main difference between the duo on Wednesday and what Rashford and Anthony Martial produced on Saturday was the constant determination to keep pushing instead of blaming others and flailing their arms about.
Ten Hag’s substitutions have not always worked this season and they have often arrived too late but at half-time with the score reading 1-1, the manager would have been forgiven for not making too many changes considering the attacking display from his team.
Perfect sub to control the game even more
Instead, he opted to bring on Sergio Reguilon as left-back, thereby moving Luke Shaw to the heart of the defence and the move paid dividends.
The Spaniard might not be the best defensively, but he has boundless energy and loves to run forward and he ensured United kept attacking down the left in the second half.
The win means United are up to sixth and only three points behind defending champions Manchester City in fourth. A strange season indeed!
Up next are Bournemouth, who are in good form and the Reds will need to keep up the same level of intensity if they are to grab three points.