Manchester United put in one of their best performances of the season this afternoon as they handed fellow top four contenders Tottenham Hotspur a 3-0 thrashing at Old Trafford.
Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney scored the goals in the opening 34 minutes to put the game to bed before half-time.
The result leaves United two points off second-place Manchester City whilst Tottenham are now six points off the UEFA Champions League places.
Here are the major talking points from today’s game in Manchester:
1. United can play with high tempo
Manchester United have played too slow in the final third a number of times under Louis van Gaal which has resulted in creating few chances. Today, when they put their foot down in the first half they showed they were capable of playing at a high tempo, pressure the opposition in their own half and create chances with quick passing. The opening goal was a result of Michael Carrick playing a through ball.
The foot came off the gas in the second half as the game was as good as over and energy was being saved for next weekend’s trip to Anfield as Manchester United failed to get a single shot on Hugo Lloris’ goal after half-time.
2. Chris Smalling handled in-form striker
Chris Smalling has had some poor performances of late but today was the opposite. Harry Kane was all the talk pre-game having scored 14 goals in his previous 13 Premier League games before today. The England centre-back kept the Spurs striker in check up until the 89th minute when Kane finally had his first shot of the match.
Smalling kept tight to Kane throughout the game and made some timely interceptions by stepping up when balls were fired into the direction of the striker’s feet.
3. Kyle Walker is no £20m right-back
Over the past couple of months Kyle Walker has been linked with a £20 million move to Old Trafford. On today’s performance, Louis van Gaal won’t think twice about the Tottenham right-back.
Kyle Walker had a shocker, not knowing whether to stick out wide with Ashley Young or come inside to pick up Marouane Fellaini. He conceded a couple of silly free kicks, didn’t close Young down quick enough as he was taken apart.
4. Carrick better than Blind?
Louis van Gaal has preferred Daley Blind over Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield this season. The Dutch international is a big reason why United have played a slow passing game in midfield this season.
Michael Carrick came into the middle today as Blind was forced to play left-back due to Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo were absent. The midfielder took less than 10 minutes to set up the opening goal with a fine through ball. His goal came from poor defending of a corner from Tottenham but generally United’s quick temp came from Carrick and Herrera playing alongside each other.
5. Tottenham’s inexperience showed
Perhaps they were overawed at Old Trafford or simply outplayed by Manchester United’s stars, but youngsters Eric Dier, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason, each with about half-a-season of Premier League, were all over the place.
Manchester United controlled the centre of midfield with Bentaleb and Mason unable to handle the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick. The former with a shocking mistake to set up Rooney’s goal. Eric Dier couldn’t sort his feet out to prevent the United captain either.