5 Things We Learned: Swansea City 0-4 Manchester United

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The first away game of the season was met with great optimism following a strong opening day performance against West Ham United.

It was a tight game for large periods but, following Eric Bailly’s opener just before half time, 3 quick fire goals put the game to bed in the final 10 minutes to secure the points for the Reds.

Here are five things we learned from Saturday’s trip to the Liberty Stadium.

1. Martial/Rashford

Once again it was Marcus Rashford who got the nod ahead of Anthony Martial to start the game from the left. With Mkhitaryan in good form the choice feels as though it’s one or the other right now, but that’s a great dilemma for any manager to have.

Marcus Rashford continues to impress with his general play but disappoint in front of goal. Conversely, Anthony Martial has been ruthlessly efficient in very limited time on the pitch.

There is some credence to the argument that the Frenchman has benefitted from fresh legs against tired teams, stretched chasing the game in the final stages. Nevertheless, with another goal against Swansea Martial has arguably now earned his chance to start.

2. Jones/Bailly

Titles are won by teams with strong foundations and there have long been concerns surrounding United’s back line.

Since joining the club last summer, when fit Eric Bailly has been very impressive and attentions have inevitably turned to finding someone to partner the Ivorian long term. In Phil Jones, Mourinho may just have a player finally beginning to deliver on undoubted promise.

Injuries have always been an issue for the Englishman, but next to Bailly against West Ham and again on Saturday against Swansea Jones has looked solid. Victor Lindelof may well have something to say when he adapts to life in England but, for now at least, United look to have a strong and balanced centre-back partnership.

3. 1-1 last season

It’s become a bit of a cliché, but Saturday’s game may well have ended 1-1 like last season’s encounter at Old Trafford. In truth, despite a largely dominant display for long spells, the 0-4 score line flattered United.

There were certainly periods where Swansea were on top and looked threatening. Given recent history many would be forgiven for feeling slightly on edge with just a single goal still separating the sides as the game entered the final stages.

Nevertheless, United remained compact, resolute and, crucially, now look a ruthless threat on the break. There is a different feel to this side that gives hope of a sustained challenge this season.

4. Strength in depth

Despite a very strong squad to choose from, and many expecting a game away from home to signal the re-introduction of Andee Herrera to the starting lineup, Jose Mourinho named an unchanged side for the trip to the Liberty Stadium.

With a more congested fixture list to come there’s no doubt that rotation will come into effect, but for now the omission of players such as Carrick from the squad and Herrera and Martial from the starting 11 illustrates just how strong this squad is becoming.

Whilst the full-back areas still look slightly light, Mourinho will be delighted with the options available to him and once again his substitutions made a real impact from the bench at the Liberty Stadium.

5. Still early doors

8 goals, 2 clean sheets and 6 points is the perfect way to start the season. United have looked impressive in both games and the resilience shown at Swansea was particularly encouraging.

It was far from a free-flowing performance and things could have been very different had Ayew’s cross-come-shot early on been six inches lower. Nevertheless, the Reds weathered the storms when they came and closed the game out in the best way possible with 3 quick fire goals.

Sterner tests are to come but the potency is back and Mourinho’s men look capable of scoring far more than the previous campaign. Fans should not get carried away, but the fixture list leaves United with a real chance to put lots of early points on the board, and if the Old Trafford outfit are to mount a serious challenge this season they will still need to improve.

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