Manchester United returned from the international break with a now-typical hungover performance. The Reds attacked well enough to secure all three points away at Stoke City, but were let down by slack defending. We rated the individual performances, out of 10.
David de Gea: 7
De Gea was a safe pair of hands as usual, and couldn’t do much about either goal. Just before Stoke’s equalizer, he made a world class save that should have secured United the win, if not for the slack defending at the ensuing corner. Best goalkeeper in the world.
Bad: Crap defending cost United all 3 points.— The Busby Babe (@TheBusbyBabe) September 9, 2017
Good: David de Gea is the best goalkeeper on earth.pic.twitter.com/CyZKvdrBhA
Antonio Valencia: 6
Valencia was a consistent source of attacking threat on the overlap, but too often the quality of his crosses let him down. As United’s senior defender (that still doesn’t seem real), and arguably the only true reliable source of width in the team, more is expected of the of Ecuadorian.
Phil Jones: 5
Mourinho should never let Phil Jones out of his sight. After starting the season looking like the player we keep hoping to see since Jones was signed from Blackburn, he came back from England duty as gormless as ever. It was Jones who inexplicably lost Choupo-Moting in the box for Stoke’s equalizer.
Eric Bailly: 6
We should remember that Bailly is still only 23, and that mistakes will occasionally creep into his game. On Saturday, Bailly went full young Rio Ferdinand, and was caught napping more than once. Most costly, his movement was lazy for Stoke’s opener: first by not pushing up with the rest of the line, and then by allowing Choupo-Moting to get in front of him to score. These lapses in concentration were only partly offset by other moments of solid one-on-one defending and some very good passing out from the back.
Matteo Darmian: 5
Darmian was a clear weak link in the defense, even on a day when none of the back four covered themselves in glory. He was slack to allow the cross for the opening goal, and hardly played well enough after that to justify being included ahead of Daley Blind.
Nemanja Matić: 6
Matić was solid again, as he has been in the previous games, but his influence seemed surprisingly constrained in the changed formation. Darren Fletcher was allowed far too much freedom to influence proceedings.
Paul Pogba: 7
Pogba was at the heart of everything, probing and charging forward from midfield. The opener that was credited to Rashford was Pogba’s goal-bound header that took a touch off the striker.
Ander Herrera: 6
Herrera made his first start of the season, as Mourinho understandably fortified the center of park. Herrera was scrappy and full of energy, but needs to readjust to a different role in the team now. With Matić in the side as a true holding midfielder, Herrera needs to contribute more on the attacking side.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 7
Mkhitaryan was full of guile and clever movement, and would have continued his streak of assists if Romelu Lukaku had finished the Armenian’s through ball on the first attempt.
Marcus Rashford: 7
Restored to the starting line-up, Rashford was a constant menace, particularly in the first half. He got in behind the Stoke backline on multiple occasions, and probably should have scored after collecting an Eric Bailly through ball. This was an encouraging response to being dropped in the last league game, but he needs to finds consistency in his finishing.
Romelu Lukaku: 7
Another game, another important goal. Lukaku’s dynamism continues to allow the team to play in a more expansive and attractive style. His finishing on Saturday was still suspect, however. He needed a second bite at the cherry for his goal, after he hit the first attempt too close to the ‘keeper. He wasted a late (and admittedly difficult) chance to win it after being out through by Anthony Martial.
Juan Mata (Sub, 71’): 6
Mata’s ingenuity livened up the end of the match as United pushed for a winner, but wasn’t involved enough.
Anthony Martial (Sub, 71’): 8
Martial was scintillating when he came on, and should have created the winner. A trademark direct run and a pinpoint ball in behind the defense for Lukaku should have led to the deciding goal, but the Belgian could only blast it over. What Martial did to Mame Biram Diouf over the other flank can only be described as a war crime.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
Rarely effective from the bench anyway, Lingard didn’t have much time to make an impact after replacing Mkhitaryan.