Alejandro Garnacho – A star in the making?
“I don’t know if it’s real or I’m dreaming.”
That was the reaction of 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho after his full Manchester United debut against Sheriff Tiraspol last week.
The teenager received a standing ovation from the majority inside Old Trafford when he was substituted late in the 3-0 win. Seven days later, United fans who traveled to watch their team take on Real Sociedad will find it even more difficult to hide their excitement.
Although Garnacho’s match-winning goal in San Sebastian was not enough for United to win their group in the Europa League, the young Argentine produced another promising performance at the start of his second game – against a much better opposition.
His expert control and impressive finish in the 17th minute showed his quality in the final third, while his confidence in possession, his willingness to beat opponents and his unexpected skills gave United a different dimension going forward.
“I’m really happy and I hope he can continue,” Ten Hag said of Garnacho, who is now the club’s youngest non-English scorer in European competition.
He may be a raw talent, but early indications are that he has the potential to become a world-class player. Under the guidance of Ten Hag, this finding is a distinct possibility.
Vieira impresses but Tomiyasu exacerbates injury problems
Takehiro Tomiyasu pulled his shirt over his head in frustration. The Japanese full-back was a late substitute for Arsenal in a difficult game against Zurich, but did not last long on the field, and was replaced by Cedric Soares due to a muscle injury which added to the growing fears now faced by coach Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal top the Premier League list and cling to the top spot in the Europa League, but his team is now reeling. For most of this opening part of the season, the Spaniard had a starting lineup you could almost read from your memory, but after making seven changes ahead of a crucial derby in London on Sunday, he was once again left to pick up the walking wounded for Chelsea.
Bukayo Saka’s return in the second half of the match was as welcome as it was necessary, given how Arsenal operated and failed to put a recalcitrant Zurich but limit sleep. Tierney’s goal was a beautiful thing, worthy of winning any game and avoiding two more games in a playoff that would please Arteta the most.
Fabio Vieira impressed in the opening period and arguably should have added to Arsenal’s lead, as his three shots yielded the game’s leading xG of 0.35. He also completed three key passes and five touchdowns in the Zurich square.
Defensively he won the ball three times, once in the final third. The Portuguese took part in eight attempts of artillery tonight (4 shots, 4 chances were made). It was an all-around display that will give Arteta hope that the depth is there to compete on multiple fronts once the season resumes after the World Cup.
A special night for West Ham Academy
There was nothing to play for in Bucharest on Thursday night, West Ham nor FCSB.
Hammers were emphasized first, while the hosts couldn’t have done better than in the past.
But David Moyes’ inclusion of rookie teen players, Devin Mubama and Oliver Scarles, injected some much-needed life into the game.
The pure ecstasy on 18-year-old Mubama’s face as his skewed header hit the back of the net painted a picture of how much it meant to score for his childhood club. Even if UEFA later withdrew it, they awarded it as a special target.
The striker, who joined the club as a left-back at the age of eight, was not alone in his brilliance.
Sixteen-year-old Scarles also distinguished himself with his performances at left-back and almost set up a match for the Lampama for a goal that could have truly been set up in East London.
He had an insatiable desire to work with the team and had a sinister left foot. Scarles was a constant threat at left-back and was far from scoring himself.
With the five substitutions brought in, West Ham had nine academic alumni involved against FCSB. The future looks bright for Hammers.