Sunday’s game at Bramall Lane proved to be a match where we should have lost based on our overall performance, whilst seeming to have all three points in our grasp until McBurnie’s controversial equaliser in stoppage time. The original approach from Solskjaer did not work. It took a gung-ho substitution policy in order to divert control of the game our way. It was a frantic few minutes where Williams, Greenwood and finally Rashford scored in order to temporarily turn the game on its head.
In a game where there was a lack of standout players throughout the whole game, I will pick out three standout players mostly based on key moments that were vital to our draw, with one exception.
David de Gea
It comes as no surprise that our Spaniard sensation was this exception, being the only player who did anything worthwhile in the first half. He showed terrific reflexes to save from David McGoldrick’s point blank header, after getting down low in trying to save the original shot. It was a trademark David De Gea save, one that we have been used to seeing from him in his time with us, although admittedly it has not happened enough in the past year or so.
It is encouraging that his mistakes this season have been much less frequent than last season. He also made a smart save to initially deny John Lundstram before John Fleck scrambled the ball in to give the Blades the deserved lead. None of the goals were a De Gea mistake too which is encouraging for his form if nothing else. He will now look to kick on in order to impress Luis Enrique ahead of Spain’s international fixtures in March.
I said after the Chelsea game about Williams that the sign of a promising young player is how they recover from a tough situation. This definitely applies to Sunday’s game. He had severe trouble with Sheffield United’s incisive passing and their overloading of the wide channels. This was not helped by United fielding a narrow front three, all who were mostly left up top when we didn’t have the ball. At times, it was 3v1 on the flanks and it showed. Time and time again, the home side were finding the space between Williams and the centre halves. It was a really tough half for Williams.
However, his strike was arguably the catalyst that propelled us back into a game in which we looked to have no hope in. It was brilliant technique. It is certainly harder than it looks to hit one of those first time in the manner he did and even more so how he kept it low. He was then important in the other goals too in committing numbers forward in search of further goals. It could offer an important boost to the youngster, who will hope to impress ahead of Villa and then the huge Spurs game.
Marcus Rashford was one of those who came alive in that brief seven minute period. Before that point, he was virtually non-existent in the game. This was rather disappointing, especially given his superb goalscoring form that he is in right now. But like all top players, he performed two sublime pieces of magic which proved key in getting us firmly back in contention.
Firstly, his ball for Greenwood’s first Premier League goal was superb, virtually making it so the youngster couldn’t miss. It was weighted fantastically. A real sign of quality. In no time at all, he looked to have won the game for us with a low finish into a half empty net. It will be a big confidence boost to him and keeping his confidence high is so critical to us at the moment.