Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal fielded what was probably his most attacking starting XI of the season on Tuesday night in the 2-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven.
He opted to put defensive minded midfielders Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin on the bench in order to start attacking midfielder Ander Herrera and a Champions League winner in Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Juan Mata was also moved into his preferred no. 10 role and that allowed youthful summer signings Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial to form a pacey front three with Ashley Young.
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Man United may have lost to the current Dutch champions, but they dominated the ball throughout the game.
Despite failing to create a lot of clear-cut opportunities, the Red Devils can count themselves desperately unlucky to leave the Philips Stadion with no points.
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However, in a game that was marred by Luke Shaw’s horrific injury, there were very promising signs from two other United youngsters in the form of Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial.
All of Memphis’ goals for Manchester United thus far have been in the Champions League, whether it be in the play-off round against Club Brugge or versus his former club PSV on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old was a constant menace on Tuesday night and showed the speed that he possesses.
He drove at PSV’s players with real purpose and was willing to run beyond the ball on almost every occasion, which is something United have sorely lacked for a very long time.
Memphis showed fantastic skill to open the scoring as he made a run in behind full-back Santiago Arias and beat two PSV defenders with neat skill before showing composure to slot home left-footed past keeper Jeroen Zoet.
Following a poor performance against Liverpool on the weekend, it was a good response from Memphis and he was unfortunate not to score more on the night.
Martial started his first game for Man United on Tuesday and he provided a very enterprising display.
The teenager has been training with all of his new teammates for less than a week but his link-up play was excellent and he tried to bring the likes of Memphis and Herrera into play whenever he could.
Martial used his strength to hold up the ball and with his pace he offered United an extremely useful platform on which to base their counter-attacks.
Whenever he did receive the ball, he wasn’t afraid to turn and run at the PSV defence with directness and attacking intent.
Having scored a sensational debut goal at Old Trafford, it was always going to be tough for the 19-year-old Frenchman to replicate that performance.
But his overall play certainly gave United some new, exciting options, and he should feel content with his personal performance.
MEMPHIS & MARTIAL IN TANDEM
Inside the Philips Stadion, we began to see a definite relationship developing between Memphis and Martial. They’ve not worked with each other for very long, but the young pair already seem to understand each other’s games pretty well.
The duo looked particularly dangerous and useful whenever the ball was rolled into Martial, and he managed to hold it up and then lay Memphis off to either run at defenders or strike first-time at goal.
They are both young and inexperienced in European competition, but if both can add more cutting edge to their game there’s no doubt they will provide a lot of exciting moments for Manchester United.
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