After a week that saw injury and illness to Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney respectively, Manchester United fans feared the worst upon their clash with Watford on Saturday.
The summer transfer window saw the departures of Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez, with just Martial being brought in to counter the exodus.
With Rooney’s deployment as an out-and-out striker rapidly declining, the Frenchman and James Wilson proved the Red Devils’ only recognised forwards going into the 2015/16 season.
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Considering both Rooney and Martial were ruled out following the international break, Louis van Gaal had a serious dilemma ahead of United’s trip to Vicarage Road. The Dutchman’s striking options were practically non-existent.
With Wilson having only appeared for eight minutes in the Premier League this season and Marouane Fellaini’s brief cameo up front versus Liverpool proving a catastrophe, Memphis Depay was the next port of call.
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And to the relief of United fans, despite his rotten recent form, the Dutchman stepped up to the plate.
The Hornets sat a proud 11th in the table prior to the affair and are usually a force to be reckoned with at Vicarage Road. However, the Red Devils produced an admirable performance to ensure they departed London with all three points.
United fans’ inconsolable emotions upon Martial’s injury were soon dispelled after a beautiful finish from Depay just ten minutes into the game. Having not scored in the Premier League since October 4, the winger was out to exercise his demons upon his first start in four league fixtures.
The 21-year-old finished off a superb team move with the game’s opening goal. Latching onto an Ander Herrera cross, Depay sweetly cushioned the ball into the roof of the net for 1-0.
The Dutchman proved a persistent thorn in Watford’s side. With his tail up, Depay forced Heurelho Gomes into a culpable save after a fizzing, low drive.
The United starlet was later unlucky with two further shots that narrowly missed the target, his swelling confidence clear to see.
In a game engulfed by scrutiny towards United’s lack of attacking depth, Depay filled the role in impressive style to the send the Red Devils up to second in the table.
Despite being peppered with criticism recently, at long last the youngster was proving he can perform in the battlegrounds of the Premier League.
Furthermore, with skipper Rooney having only scored two league goals and Martial without a strike in seven games, the door may have opened for Depay to earn a regular spot in the squad.
However, he has shown little consistency during his short Old Trafford tenure and although he has filled the role this week, Van Gaal’s men continue to teeter on the edge of disaster with their emaciated strike force.
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