Sunday 27 August 2017

United pass first test of credentials to maintain perfect start

It is always worth remembering that you cannot win the Premier League title in August, but you can certainly lose it.

Early days, perhaps, but heady ones indeed for Jose and the team - we could not have done any more than this in the fledgling stages of the campaign so far. 

United go into the ill-timed international break having won three out of three in the league and sitting on top of the table, looking down on the other title contenders.

Ten goals scored, none conceded, United have looked the best team in the country up to this point.

It is also worth noting that we won our opening three games of last season, yet still contrived to finish well off the title pace in a sixth placed finish.

We look well equipped to challenge for the title in a very promising start, but that is all it is. 

This was a win that wasn't as eye-catching as the 4-0 thumpings of West Ham and Swansea, but that arguably makes it more important and satisfying.

The visit of Craig Shakespeare's Leicester City side - champions two seasons ago - presented United with the first true test of the campaign. 

It was an examination of credentials that we passed and an important box to tick given last season's failings.

Beating resolute, well organised teams with a limited game plan and stunted ambition proved United's chronic Achilles heel that sucked the life out of a potential title challenge.

Leicester made the Reds work incredibly hard, defending deep and in numbers as they were indebted to Kasper Schmeichel - whose second half penalty save from Romelu Lukaku added to United's frustration.

The Reds peppered the opposition area with crosses from wide during the first half, but the threat from the wings was comfortably dealt with by the Foxes defensive giants Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire.

Lukaku had an afternoon that he will want to forget quickly as he toiled against the visitors powerful backline, but Jose remained calm and sent on the fresh legs of Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard.

That prompted a switch in the manager's thinking, as United began to breach Leicester's resilient rearguard with shorter balls from a more central position.

The changes made all the difference and only further demonstrated the strength in depth and embarrassment of riches that Jose has at his disposal.

Rashford broke the deadlock only three minutes after coming on and Fellaini then linked up with Lingard to make the game safe and extend United's winning run.

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