Four things we learned as Man United overcome Brighton to advance to the FA Cup final – Man United News And Transfer News – Fitnessnacks & Sports

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    Manchester United faced Brighton at Wembley in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, with Erik ten Hag looking to get back to winning ways after his side’s disappointing defeat in Andalusia to Sevilla.

    The United boss named a relatively strong starting XI considering the injury predicament he has been forced to deal with.

    Ten Hag started David de Gea in goal, with a defensive quartet of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot ahead of him.

    Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes were charged with controlling proceedings in the middle of the park.

    After an injury scare in Spain, Anthony Martial was deemed fit enough to start, with Marcus Rashford and Antony rounding off the attacking line.

    Here are four things we learned as Manchester United advance to the FA Cup final.

    Bruno Fernandes makes a massive difference to the team

    At the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, Fernandes was missing with the player serving a suspension picked up in the first leg at Old Trafford.

    In Fernandes’s absence, the Red Devils crumbled and proved just how crucial he is to the team.

    On restoration to the starting XI at Wembley, United mustered a much-improved performance. While United’s display was by no stretch of the imagination the complete article, it was better than what was witnessed on Thursday.

    Central to this was the United playmaker. In the opening 45 minutes, the best chances to break the deadlock fell to Fernandes. Going into the break, he would have undoubtedly felt that he should have found the back of the net.

    He kept the ball well, was measured in his passing and always looked to pass forward if the opportunity presented itself.

    Fernandes was also excellent defensively. He tracked back to help, which went a long way considering just how dominant the Seagulls were in possession.

    The 28-year-old has in some instances been harshly criticised for a few flaws in his game but what is undisputed is his importance to the team and certainly Ten Hag.

    Beyond play, Fernandes’s leadership is something that the midfielder brings to the pitch.

    Ten Hag forced to abandon his preferred system to accommodate De Gea

    A recurring theme of the game was how the Reds abandoned playing out from the back and trying to initiate play with De Gea.

    De Gea’s weaknesses are an open secret and have been well documented. He struggles to play with his feet and to build from the back. Sweeping is a massive problem for the Spaniard as is his claiming of crosses and commanding United’s box.

    These areas were ruthlessly punished by Sevilla in the Europa League. All three goals conceded in Spain were arguably down to De Gea and it seems that Ten Hag’s solution against Roberto De Zerbi’s men was to abandon playing out from the back altogether.

    De Gea went long all game. The result was that United were unable to put together sustained spells of possession or pressure.

    The ball was constantly ceded back to Brighton who would then recycle it and launch another attack.

    Brighton were all too happy with this state of affairs. Going forward, however, it must be said, this is not a sustainable way of playing, especially considering the kind of football Ten Hag wants to implement at Old Trafford.

    Amidst reports that De Gea is close to signing a new deal, maybe United should reconsider such an arrangement. A new shot-stopper is as big of a necessity as is a striker this summer.

    Ten Hag should not be forced to abandon his philosophy only to accommodate one player whose replacement can instantly elevate the team’s levels.

    Shaw should be a guaranteed starter at centre-back ahead of Harry Maguire

    Among a few of United’s outstanding stars at Wembley, one was Shaw. The Englishman slotted in at centre-back next to Lindelof in Maguire’s absence.

    Maguire was suspended.

    Shaw hardly put a foot wrong all game despite being in a largely unfamiliar position. Shaw has played there a few times this season but the point stands that he is still naturally a left-back.

    The 27-year-old was an able replacement for the injured Lisandro Martinez. He passed well and when required to, stepped up defensively to intervene.

    Shaw patrolled the dangerous Danny Welbeck well and followed him around to keep the former United man quiet.

    The United number 23 sensed danger well and in a couple of moments when De Gea’s poor passes found him, he did well to weave out of trouble and do something meaningful.

    The most striking thing from Shaw was just how calm he was compared to the lacklustre Maguire who primarily generates panic whenever on the pitch.

    Shaw’s calm nature allowed those close to him to do even better. Going forward, Ten Hag will be best served by deploying Shaw in the central defence role ahead of Maguire.

    United through to the finals

    After a gritty 90-minute affair, the game went to extra time. Still, no side could score a goal and so it went to penalties.

    De Gea failed to register even a single save but luckily for United, Solly March blasted one over the top of the bar.

    Lindelof scored the next one to effectively send the Red Devils to the final where they will face Manchester City.

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