Manchester United fought back for a big win, Chelsea and Tottenham played it safe in the Premier League’s game of the weekend, and Napoli showed their Serie A title credentials, while Real Madrid, Arsenal, PSG, Juventus and Bayern all failed to impress.
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Predict results in ESPN’s English Soccer Pick ‘Em!
– ESPN+ viewer’s guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more
It’s Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the biggest moments in the world of football from the past week.
Jump to: Man United joy | Real, Zidane a mess | Napoli’s title credentials | Time for head injury subs | Arsenal regress | Milan keep winning | Lessons from Chelsea, Spurs | Tuchel blasts PSG | Bayern look tired | Barca’s big win | Juve’s slow progress | Dortmund woes on Favre | Conte keeps complaining | Mahrez steps up for Man City | “Atletico 2.0” win
Has Solskjaer figured out the ‘right’ way for Man United to play?
Edinson Cavani‘s two-goal, second-half performance will get the headlines from Sunday’s 3-2 come-from-behind win, but that should not detract from the fact that Manchester United played well throughout the 90 minutes against Southampton, even when they went two goals down in the first half.
— Report: Southampton 2, Man United 3
— Ratings: Cavani 9/10 in United comeback
— Cavani apologizes for social media post
Without Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted for the diamond with the addition of Donny van de Beek, while up front, Mason Greenwood got his first start since November 1. It wasn’t perfect, but it showed that the set-up could work and it gave United a platform to play through Southampton’s aggressive press that, lest we forget, was a big part in ensuring Ralph Hasenhuttl’s crew had been undefeated since Week 2 of the season.
Greenwood struggled somewhat, but it’s important for Solskjaer to get him back on the pitch and to get him minutes. He only turned 19 in October; this is how you grow. And he got to witness a master class in the performance of Cavani, the man who replaced him. The Uruguayan set up Bruno Fernandes‘ goal, came close once and then bagged both the equaliser and the injury time winner. Just as important, he showed you how playing a front two doesn’t mean you necessarily sacrifice width: if you have the movement and the energy, you can stretch any defensive line.
Diamond midfield or wingers? The dilemma will likely accompany Solskjaer all season long, but for me, there is no argument. Unless you have some sophisticated, hyper-efficient tactical system that befuddles opponents (and United most definitely do not), you’re better off getting your most gifted players on the pitch. That means going with a diamond.
You can figure out what combination of Martial, Rashford, Cavani and Greenwood play in the…
Read More:Could this be a breakthrough victory for Man United?