Manchester United made the perfect start to their 2019/20 season, blowing away Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils put on a counter-attacking masterclass, making the opposition pay every time they lost the ball. It was a proper team performance, with everyone playing their part. Now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must look to the future.
A win like that guarantees most players another start next week versus Wolves, but there is one spot on the field that will give the Norwegian manager some selection headaches. There isn’t a star name that currently plays on the right-wing, but United have a number of decent options they can still turn to as the season goes on.
The Englishman started against the Blues on Sunday, and will likely be who Solskjaer turns to for the near future. There’s a large chunk of the United fanbase who don’t really like Jesse Lingard playing so consistently, but he does bring certain crucial things to the team.
He’s not really dangerous in the final third in terms of scoring or assisting, but his presence is felt elsewhere. Lingard excels at making runs off the ball, opening up space for his more talented teammates to run into. He also has incredible stamina, allowing him to track back and support the defence whenever need be. The Englishman is far from the most glamorous attacking option, but there’s a reason he’s at United, with the right-wing position now being his to lose.
Making his official club debut off the bench, Daniel James certainly made an impression vs Chelsea. Coming on in the 75th minute, it only took five minutes for the Welshman to grab his first goal for United. Demonstrating his incredible speed on the counter, James flew up the pitch to support the run of Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman played him through, and James unleashed a shot that found its way into the back of the net, with a little help coming courtesy of a deflection. It was a goal that sent the fans into delirium, making it a dream Old Trafford debut for James. Now, he’ll have to fight for more minutes on the field. The Welshman should get plenty of chances in the team, and if Sunday was any indication, James will be ready to make the most of them.
The ultimate wild card at United this season, many are waiting to see when Mason Greenwood is going to have his moment to shine. He was the main man for the Red Devils during pre-season, being the most impressive player on tour at the age of 17. Solskjaer was adamant that he will get plenty of game time this season for the first team, and he’s kept up that promise so far, giving the youngster close to ten minutes off the bench versus Chelsea.
Greenwood does prefer to play centrally, but with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford already up top, he won’t get too many chances to play as the main forward. However, the fight for the right-wing spot is much more open. Greenwood has all the ability to make the transition work, possessing the speed and dribbling talents needed to thrive out wide. He’s not got a weak foot either, so his versatility and sheer potential makes him stand out against his competition.
He won’t ever be a consistent figure at the position, but there will be a few games where Juan Mata has to start on the right-wing. Whether it be due to injury problems or just a bit of squad rotation, the Spaniard will eventually find himself out wide. It’s not his best position, as he’s naturally a central attacking midfielder, but Mata can certainly get the job done on the wing.
Fans will always remember his wonderful performance versus Liverpool under Louis van Gaal a few years back, as they dubbed the Merseyside stadium “Juanfield” afterwards. Mata will be key against any opposition who choose to sit back and allow United possession. His lack of speed won’t be exposed, so the diminutive Spaniard will simply have to focus on creating chances with his immense technical ability. He signed a two-year contract extension over the summer, so it’s nice to know United have a player like Mata they can always turn to in times of need.