|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Arnautovic seals victory as West Ham compound Manchester United gloom
David Hytner at the London Stadium
Date Published Sat 29 Sep 2018 18.35 BST
Clubs cannot win the Premier League by the end of September, but they can certainly lose it. And yet for Manchester United, the death or otherwise of their title challenge on a torturous afternoon at West Ham, felt like a footnote.
Their problems were written large on the open spaces of the London Stadium and on the back of last Saturday’s home draw with Wolves and the Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Derby at Old Trafford, not to mention the civil unrest between José Mourinho and Paul Pogba, this was yet another low.
West Ham have stabilised after their four-game losing streak at the start of the season and it is worth remembering the anxiety that gripped after that final defeat – at home to Wolves – and in advance of fixtures against Everton, Chelsea and United. Yet Everton were beaten at Goodison Park and there was encouragement to be taken from the home draw against Chelsea.
This was another polished performance, but they did not need to be outstanding to ease past United.
Mourinho dropped the out-of-sorts Alexis Sánchez, although he made him travel, and he demanded a reaction from his stuttering team. What he got only intensified the sense that something is broken at Old Trafford and he does not have the tact or tactics to find the solution.
United’s biggest problem remains their inability to break down well-organised defences; to pull them out of shape with front-foot football and that was once again in evidence.
There was no coherent offensive strategy, they did not move the ball quickly enough and they sleepwalked to a defeat that looked on the cards from the moment Felipe Anderson scored his first West Ham goal in the fifth minute.
Manuel Pellegrini, the West Ham manager, said he did not “remember feeling any danger situations in our box” and while there were a few it was plain from United’s point of view that there were not enough.
Pobga was anonymous and Mourinho’s decision to substitute him on 70 minutes will invite further scrutiny of their relationship. But the marquee midfielder was not alone in showing a basic lack of hunger and drive.
The players in the pale pink could be questioned over their attitude, almost to a man and it was easy to wonder whether they were still giving their all for their manager.
With confidence low, United needed a good start. They did not get it. Mourinho argued that Pablo Zabaleta was offside when he took Mark Noble’s pass and crossed for Anderson, who flicked home brilliantly with his trailing leg. It was difficult to tell, even after watching the replays.
Mourinho had included Scott McTominay on the right of a back-three and there cannot have been too many United line-ups over the years that boasted more height and physicality. The trade-off came in the lack of speed and movement. Where were the options for the player in possession when United ventured into West Ham territory? It was all so one-paced and the frustration could be seen in some of Pogba’s reactions.
West Ham sat back on their lead and United dug out a foothold, flexing their muscle, pushing them back a little. But they laboured to get in behind and the sum total of their first-half efforts was a Romelu Lukaku header that came back off the outside of a post from Ashley Young’s cross.
West Ham deserved credit for their grit and organisation, even if this was no rearguard action, and they went further in front when Andriy Yarmolenko stood up Nemanja Matic and jinked to the left before shooting. The ball deflected off Victor Lindelöf to loop in for an own goal.
Mourinho made an attacking substitution when he withdrew Lindelöf, introduced Marcus Rashford and switched to 4-1-4-1. Rashford’s goal was a beauty – a back-heeled flick from Luke Shaw’s corner.
Seven minutes earlier, Marouane Fellaini had extended Lukasz Fabianski with a header. Was there a way off the canvas for United?
The answer was no. With Mourinho screaming for a foul by Zabaleta on Rashford, the excellent Noble set Marko Arnautovic free for the third.
This has been United’s worst start to a Premier League season. The greater worry is what history shows when things begin to unravel for Mourinho.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, LIVE LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
West Ham (4-5-1): Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Rice, Masuaku; Noble, Diop, Obiang, Yarmolenko (Snodgrass 72), Anderson (Diangana 90+2); Arnautovic (Antonio 83)
Subs not used: Adrian, Ogbonna, Fredericks, Perez
Scorers: Anderson 5, Lindelof og 43, Arnautovic 74
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester United (5-3-2): De Gea; Young, McTominay, Smalling, Lindelof (Rashford 56), Shaw; Matic, Fellaini, Pogba (Fred 70);
Lukaku, Martial (Mata 70)
Subs not used: Grant, Bailly, Darmian, Herrera
Scorer: Rashford 71
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Referee: Michael Oliver