Leicester City 0-3 Manchester United: Lessons learned from Red Devils' comfortable away win

Leicester City 0-3 Manchester United: Lessons learned from Red Devils' comfortable away win

Jose Mourinho's side were clinical with their chances and put the game to bed early on and emerged victorious in a comfortable outing at the King Power stadium

ninad-barbadikar
Ninad Barbadikar

Manchester United made light work of Claudio Ranieri's struggling Leicester City as they put three goals past the Foxes in a matter of minutes to make sure of an early victory at the King Power Stadium.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan provided the moment of magic that the game needed with yet another solo goal which has become something of a classic from the Armenian this season to make it 1-0.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic soon got the second after good work from Antonio Valencia down the right-hand side to pick out the Swede, who finished the goal with the cleanest of strikes.

The game was effectively put to bed early in the second-half when Juan Mata combined with Mkhitaryan once again. Both the playmakers exchanging a little one-two and Mata then finished with composure to add more despair to Leicester's title defence.

For Jose Mourinho's side, another three points takes them to within one point of the top four as they continue their incredible unbeaten run this season - but what can they take away from this win in particular?

Mkhitaryan and Mata make a delightful duo

Mkhitaryan and Mata started the game in a 4-4-2 system as the two wide midfielders with Marcus Rashford and Ibrahimovic starting up top for the Red Devils.

After it became clear that the system wasn't working, Mourinho's side immediately changed to the 4-2-3-1 system, a change which allowed the likes of Mkhitaryan and Mata to provide more of a threat and find more spaces in Leicester's defensive third.

Although the first-half was largely a dull affair, Mkhitaryan and Mata really shone in the second-half with the former opening the scoring for his side and the latter finishing the game off in style.

Some have questioned whether the two 'Number 10s' can be played in the same team, with one having to be dropped out for the other, but it seems as though both players have answered those doubts very well with goals and some exciting link-up play.

The best moment for the duo was Mata's goal when Mkhitaryan picked up the ball in the middle of the park and drove at the heart of Leicester's defence and picked out Mata, who then played a one-two with the Armenian international to glide into space behind the Leicester defence and score with great composure.

That goal was a great example of the benefits of having creative players on the pitch, especially those that can make the team tick and keep the opposition on full alert. It also says a lot about what two world class attacking midfielders can do when they are on their A-game.

Patience is key to being clinical for Red Devils

Unlike most other games in which United have created a plethora of chances to score in, this was one game where they looked like they might just struggle to create as was seen in the first-half. The first 45 was a frustrating period with tackles all over the place and referee Anthony Taylor having to brandish yellow cards to players on both sides.

However, after United scored the first goal, they caught Leicester unaware and got the second goal. Ibrahimovic took advantage of some poor marking to steer Valencia's cross into the back of Kasper Schmeichel's net to make it 2-0.

In the games that the Red Devils have failed to win or have drawn this term, we have since plenty chances created but few being taken. This game however was a different story as there were chances but there was also an efficiency in the way United went about their attacks.

With Leicester sitting deep inside their own half for most of the game, it allowed United to enjoy more of the ball as they have always done and Mourinho's side kept the ball well and kept the game ticking and spread the play all over the pitch.

All three goals came as a result of patience and waiting for the right moment to take advantage of, from the Red Devils. This doesn't mean that they held back, waiting for the precise moment to hurt the Foxes was a very good move by the side as they looked to score more goals as their boss wanted them to.

Pogba needs Carrick to thrive in free role

If there was one thing that seemed to be a little concerning for United, it was the lack of link-up play between Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, who started alongside Ander Herrera in a deeper role in midfield as Mourinho opted to drop the veteran Michael Carrick for this one.

But Pogba being deployed in a deeper position meant that he was rarely able to link-up well with Ibrahimovic. The duo have always created chances for each other and in the first-half, Pogba was a little sloppy in possession as Leicester hoped to take advantage of any slip-ups from the United no.6.

However, there was very little to criticise the Frenchman about in the first-half as he played his defensive role well and also proved that he is able to play a deeper role when necessary.

Although, if Pogba needs to truly realise his potential, it is rather clear that Carrick is an important player for him to have that confidence to go forward and to really hurt the opposition.

The victory against Leicester meant that United are now unbeaten since October and with a busy February coming up for the Red Devils, they will hope to maintain that momentum.

Mourinho will hope that his side can keep progressing on all fronts and also grab some early silverware in the EFL Cup final against Southampton on February 26th in a second trip to Wembley.

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