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The First Four Matches – Manchester United

Another opportunity to review the early season now and after looking at how Tottenham have performed in their quartet of fixtures it is time to take a look at the league leaders Manchester United. They may have lost their one hundred percent record yesterday but there can be few causes for complaint at Old Trafford.

You could argue that their trip to the Bet365 stadium provided the first real test for them after making light work of a trio of clubs. Those being West Ham, Swansea, Leicester. A run of fixtures that saw them score ten at one end without conceding at the other.

An imperious start for Manchester United and adding proof to the well mentioned comment that Jose Mourinho’s teams are always stronger in their second season. Their unblemished record was always going to come to and end at some point and perhaps Mourinho will disappointed it could not continue into next week’s clash with Everton.

But the level of performance in these opening four matches has been a stark contrast to that of last season, when Manchester United were labouring to draws now they look bullish going forward and still have plenty in the tank late on in fixtures.

They tore West Ham apart on the opening weekend while a trio of late goals against a tiring Swansea perhaps did not tell the full story of that particular fixture at the Liberty Stadium. That said they had still scored eight goals late in their opening two matches.

Not only that but there were key contributions from players off the bench, Anthony Martial scored off the bench against West Ham and Swansea while Marcus Rashford’s goal against Leicester was one that saw them finally break the deadlock against Leicester.

Truth be told they should have been in front before Rashford’s entrance as Romelu Lukaku missed a penalty at 0-0. That spot kick that was saved by Kasper Schmeichel has stopped the Belgian international from scoring in each of his first four Premier League matches.

Add his goal in the European Supercup defeat to Real Madrid and it is already four in five matches in all competitions. It is looking like money well spent as they bought in the former Everton forward for a cool £75m earlier in the summer.

The signing was required as a replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic but as we now know the mercurial Swede will be back in action around December of this year after his return from a cruciate ligament injury which he suffered in the Europa League Quarter Final victory over Anderlecht last season.

That prognosis was enough to see the Manchester United hierarchy offer Ibrahimovic a new contract as they feel that the four month absence can be fully justified especially if he can play a major part in helping that club win a first Premier League title since the 2012-13 season.

But it is not just the addition of the former Sweden international Ibrahimovic to the ranks later in the season which is a huge positive, the fact that they have so much strength in depth across the pitch will present an ominous sign for the rest of their title rivals.

Well stocked in defence with three full backs on each side, along with five centre backs means they are more than suitably covered while they are a number of different options in midfield and attack. That level of competition will provide a hunger to break into the first team and will keep everyone on their toes, quite simply there is no room for complacency.

You could argue that the fixture computer has been kind to them but that can be countered with the fact that you can only beat what is in front of you. Stoke provided a challenge yesterday and they just about cleared that banana skin and looking at the early fixtures you would have thought that it would be Everton that would provide the first challenge of this campaign.

That will present a homecoming of sorts for Wayne Rooney but he has been the only shining light in a poor start of the season for Everton. If the fixture computer has been kind to Manchester United but it has been particularly unkind to the Toffees.

United have certainly got their tails up after their start and are good value for their top spot in the Premier League. It probably comes as little surprise that they and Manchester City are only split by goal difference and the first Manchester derby of the season could be a good indicator of just where the title ends up.

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