After an opening 25 or 30 minutes that can kindly be described as
total rubbish a fascinating tactical battle, Manchester United struck twice in quick succession just before the break, and again soon after it, to comfortably defeat Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Using cutting edge statistical analysis, I worked out how the players rated out of 10.
David De Gea: 7
Had practically nothing to do all match, as Leicester were hopeless in attack. He still gets high marks for his typically excellent distribution, and what I assume was world class “presence” and “concentration.”
Antonio Valencia: 7
As he has been all season, Valencia was solid in defense, and our most reliable source of width in attack. The positional errors have all but disappeared from his game, and he is indefatigable on the right side. There’s a case to be made for Valencia as United’s player of the season so far.
Chris Smalling: 6
Like the rest of back line, Smalling had little to do for long stretches of the game. He acquitted himself well enough, while still giving the impression of a man perpetually on the brink of panic.
Eric Bailly: 7
Bailly’s return to the team was welcome. His pace meant that Vardy was never in danger in getting in behind, and he rescued a potentially disastrous back pass from Herrera in the first half.
Marcos Rojo: 6
After two and a half years, most of us are no closer to working out whether or not Rojo is Actually A Good Player, but he is clearly more comfortable in the middle of the defense than on the outside. The recent assurance in his game was still there, but he is not a natural left-back.
Ander Herrera: 6
Herrera struggled early on when United looked out of sorts in a 4-4-2, but grew in influence after the change in formation. The Spaniard has adapted well to a more defensive role this season, but his form has dipped noticeably in recent weeks.
Paul Pogba: 6
Just like Herrera, Pogba was ill-suited to the formation in which Mourinho initially set up the team. Even after the change, he was deployed too deeply to be at his best, but as usual his quality shone through in patches.
Juan Mata: 7
Scored a lovely goal after some neat interplay with Mkhitaryan, and should have had another when he was clean through on goal. Although he was off the pace in the first half, Mata is still the most reliable creative outlet in the squad, and he gets an extra half point for clattering Jamie Vardy.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 8
Our Armenian is a real player. The opening goal was sensational: he stole the ball away cleverly, then showed exceptional pace with the ball to evade multiple defenders, before a ruthless finish. It was his link up play that helped create Mata’s goal, and Leicester simply could not cope with him.
Marcus Rashford: 6
After the tactical switch stopped him and Ibrahimović from getting in each other’s way, Rashford was more effective on the left. He didn’t make the most of his opportunities to run at his defender, but his presence and work-rate opened up space for other players. Anthony Martial is a better option in this position, but the Frenchman is currently on the naughty step.
Zlatan Ibrahimović: 6
Quietly, the big Swede has been poor for weeks now, and today was only marginally better. Yet again though, Ibrahimović left his stamp on affairs, even while having a mediocre game. His finish for the second goal was clinical, and his leadership and composure when closing out a game like this is a valuable contribution. His lack of mobility can be a real hindrance at times though, and at some point Mourinho would do well to rotate Ibrahimović with the more dynamic options of Rashford or Martial.
Daley Blind (on for Rojo, 45’): 6
The third goal effectively ended Leicester’s resistance just a few minutes after Blind entered the game, so the Dutchman found himself with little to do in the second half. He got beaten for pace just once, which can only be considered a roaring success.
Marouane Fellaini (on for Mata, 77’): 5
Fellaini came on presumably to shore things up, but still managed to play his greatest hits: a pass straight into touch, and a sly elbow.
Ashley Young (on for Rashford, 83’): N/A
Young may have touched the ball once, and likely only came on so that Mourinho could make a point to Martial.