Another dominant display by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United ensured his team picked up a sixth consecutive league win.
Early pressure from the Red Devils in the first half was originally well stifled by Brighton’s back line. However, as the half progressed, it became clear that the Seagulls would not be able to contain United’s attack. A clumsy challenge by Gaetan Bong on Paul Pogba would see the Frenchman win a penalty, one which he converted himself, bringing his tall of goals to eight this season.
The other unstoppable force in United’s incredible rebirth since Solskjaer’s arrival, Marcus Rashford, would once again find himself on the scoresheet with his curling effort beating David Button.
Although quiet for most of the match, a sublime cross from Davy Propper would be just enough for Pascal Groß to put the ball past David de Gea, yet Brighton’s late effort was not enough to stop United’s incredible momentum.
Marcus Rashford: Best striker in the Premier League?
The Englishman is undoubtedly a gem of a player, and his form after the departure of Mourinho has been phenomenal. There have been comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo as of late, but with Rashford’s recent form can fans really be blamed for drawing parallels? With the 21-year-old unseating Lukaku as the starting striker, one has to wonder where his potential will take him. His manager certainly believes he could quickly become the best striker in England.
“Kane is injured so maybe that gives him [Rashford] a better chance to be the best one at the moment,” said Solskjaer.
The Norwegian’s charisma and exciting football definitely seem to be providing a boost for the United academy product, but to say Rashford could challenge the likes of Aguero, Aubameyang, or even Lacazette at this point in his career is perhaps a tad hopeful if not disingenuous. To believe in the Englishman’s potential and future following his run of dazzling performances is fair, but Solskjaer and even Rashford himself must remember that a footballer’s career does not consist of a run of six league games.
Brighton: Too little, too late, too often
Brighton are an interesting team in that they pose stiff opposition, but it rarely seems like they will actually win. In other words, they put forward their best efforts, but seldom come back rewarded, such was the case at Old Trafford. The loss was perhaps all too predictable considering the Red Devils’ recent form, but there remains a lack of cutting edge in Chris Hughton’s team—a cutting edge that could have at least earned Brighton a point.
Against Liverpool, they offered little in attack and the same can be said about this match at Old Trafford or any match against the league’s top six. Brighton seem scared to venture too far forward when facing tough opposition. It is natural of course to fear a counter or the attacking strength of a Manchester City or Liverpool, but Brighton must not be afraid to try to mount their own attacks.
For example, Davy Propper could have attempted the cross that gifted Groß his goal many other times throughout the match, so why didn’t he? Brighton are too reserved and too toothless in attack and as long as they continue to play safe they will continue “almost winning” matches against the best in the Premier League.
Manchester United: Champions League for the Red Devils?
For all the fanfare and joy over the renaissance of football occurring at Old Trafford, United still sit in sixth place. Of course, that is not to say there hasn’t been tangible progress or an upturn in atmosphere since the changing of the guard at the Theatre of Dreams, but Solskjaer and his players cannot afford to stop and celebrate now as there is still much work to be done.
The Manchester United legend has shown his credentials, and one has to believe he can push United out of the six place spot they’ve been in since Mourinho was still manager. However, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham are showing no signs of slowing down, and hiccups like Chelsea’s loss at the Emirates will be uncommon gifts for United.
Celebrating Solskjaer’s 100% start is justified, but fans, players, and the United board must remember that winning games is no good if there are no trophies or opportunities to win trophies at the end of it all. After all, United are expected to live up to their history; the club is one of the biggest clubs on the planet because of their trophy cabinet. Luckily, they are on the right path at the moment, and if they continue they could find themselves in the top four once more.
Brighton: A push for European competition next season?
Brighton have proved they are more than capable of competing with the rest of the Premier League, and as it stands it looks unlikely they will be returning to the Championship anytime soon. Nevertheless, Brighton should not aim to simply survive in the Premier League; they should aim for something far grander. Wolves, who’ve just promoted, are already pushing for a spot in Europa league, and Hughton and his players should envy and emulate that ambition.
It looks a difficult task to reach the Europa league this season, but the Seagulls should push for a Europa League place next season. Hughton is a capable manager and Brighton’s players are also quality players. The ingredients for success can all be found at the Amex, but without ambition it’s doubtful Hughton or his players will be able to achieve anything more substantial.