Kobbie Mainoo stars for Man Utd at Casemiro's expense as Sheff Utd implode - Premier League hits and misses

February 18, 2024

Changing of the guard? Mainoo stars at Casemiro's expense

Manchester United put out two midfielders at Luton. One was 18 years old, the other a four-time Champions League winner. One of them was lucky to stay on the pitch at half-time, the other looked cool and composed.

You would expect Kobbie Mainoo to be the one lucky to stay on the pitch - but the teenager's expert display showed a team-mate 13 years his senior how it's done.

Mainoo was superb as United calmed down a frantic game at Luton after half-time and hung on for a win. The midfielder won nine possessions in the defensive and middle thirds on the pitch, more than any of his United team-mates by a country mile. He also ran past an opposition midfielder for six of the seven times he tried it.

Casemiro, meanwhile failed to run past any of his opposite numbers or win a single ball in the United defensive third.

As Jamie Redknapp said after the game, "it was too much for Casemiro" but the "real deal" Mainoo had the "youthfulness and the presence" to cope with it.

Sunday's game at Luton could herald a changing of the guard in the United midfield.
Sam Blitz

Long ball Luton are no more - this is stylish stuff

The evolution of Luton under Rob Edwards has been fascinating to watch. Across their last six Premier League games, Luton have averaged 55.21 per cent possession - the ninth highest when assessing teams during that period. Against Manchester United they out-passed them 519 to 389.

This revamped man-for-man style that sees Ross Barkley and Albert Sambi Lokonga dictate the game in central areas has a little bit of everything in there. It's a style that is a bit Pep Guardiola mixed in with a bit of Marcelo Bielsa, sprinkled with peak Sam Allardyce when it comes to set-pieces. Teams are having trouble working it all out. Manchester United did for 10 minutes but fell in a hole when Luton got their game going. Erik ten Hag's men were lucky to get in at the break in front.

Yes, Edwards' side lack quality in the final third but their underlying attacking process is functioning to a high level. Only Manchester City and Liverpool have entered the opposition penalty area more times over the last six fixtures than Luton while only City, Liverpool and Arsenal are averaging more shots in that time. They are the hottest ticket in town. If they are to survive, they are going to do it in style.
Lewis Jones

Hot-head Holgate gives Sheff Utd no hope

What chance do Sheffield United have of staying in the Premier League when Mason Holgate does that?

The defender attempted an early reducer on Brighton's Kauro Mitoma but instead reduced his side to 10 players and an inevitable defeat - their 18th in 25 Premier League matches this season.

Holgate's recklessness is nothing new. This was his third straight red card since the start of the 2021-22 season and no Premier League player has more in that time.

Chris Wilder may seem blameless for Holgate's moment of madness but he signed the centre-back, who managed just four starts in the Championship earlier this season, on loan from Everton on Deadline Day.

It was a desperate signing made by a desperate club that is heading back down in historic fashion.
David Richardson

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