Dutch winger Memphis Depay started on the bench for the first time since his summer move to Manchester United in their impressive victory against Everton.
Some of the criticism that has been levelled at the 21-year-old in recent weeks has been harsh, however, some of it has been justified.
His poor and inconsistent performances in the Premier League finally came home to roost this weekend.
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Without Memphis in the 3-0 win at Goodison Park, Louis van Gaal’s team looked as good as they’ve been all season. They lined up with their accustomed four defenders, two holding midfielders and an attacking quartet made up of Juan Mata and Anthony Martial out wide with Ander Herrera playing just behind skipper Wayne Rooney.
Not only did Saturday’s result remind Depay that Man United don’t need him to win football matches, but it also showed Van Gaal that he has other attacking options and combinations at his disposal.
Should the likes of Herrera and Martial be preferred to Memphis for the time being, or at least until he finds his feet in English football? This article comments on whether or not Manchester United look like a better team without Depay in their line-up.
MARTIAL OUTPERFORMING MEMPHIS
On current form teenage sensation, Anthony Martial deserves to be playing ahead of Memphis because the French forward is more of a potent threat. Martial illustrated his prowess in front of goal by scoring on his debut with his first-ever shot in English football. In total, he’s gone on to register four goals in all competitions for United so far this season, including three league goals compared to Depay’s one.
At Goodison Park, Martial was very cool and calm in possession and he never looked rushed on the ball. However in an instant his electric turn of pace and acceleration enabled him to leave Seamus Coleman for dead on multiple occasions and create dangerous goalscoring opportunities for his team.
HAS MARTIAL TAKEN DEPAY’S POSITION?
During the international break, Martial lined up for France on the left-wing and he had a very positive impact on their friendly matches. Martial picked up a man-of-the-match award and also provided two assists across France’s two games and maybe that is what convinced Van Gaal to field Martial on the left for the first time against Roberto Martinez’s men.
He played the majority of his football at Monaco on the left-hand side so he’s not unfamiliar with the role. Worryingly for Depay, who, of course, is a left-winger, playing Martial on the left allows Van Gaal to let Wayne Rooney lead the line upfront. Additionally, Martial appeared even more of a menace from the left at Everton.
STRONG SPANISH INFLUENCE
Mata is starting to perfect his role as a false right-winger meanwhile playmaker Herrera celebrated his return from injury with both a goal and an assist. The two Spaniards are great friends off the pitch, they love playing together and against Everton they rotated positions with each other to very good effect and linked up well.
When Mata drifted into central areas Herrera pulled out wide to give more options to whichever United player had the ball. Herrera excelled in his more advanced role and after the match Van Gaal singled out the 26-year-old midfielder for special praise.
WHAT CAN MEMPHIS BRING?
Depay is one of only a handful of players within the current United squad who possesses real pace and he can use this to inject speed into United’s attacking play. He has the natural ability to beat a man with skill, stretch the defence of the opposition and find the back of the net.
Only time will tell if Memphis was dropped due to his poor recent form or because the Netherlands national team failed to qualify for Euro 2016 earlier in the week. In contrast to his struggles in the league Depay’s form in Europe has been exceptional, scoring 3 goals in just 4 games.
Therefore, I’d fully expect to see Depay involved in Man United’s midweek European clash versus CSKA Moscow. One thing that is certain is that Memphis will have a big point to prove whenever he does return to the United line-up.