Manchester United comprehensively beat Sunderland 3-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday, as they returned to the top of the Barclays Premier League for the first time under Louis van Gaal.
Memphis Depay scored his first Premier League goal as United crucially broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time, before Wayne Rooney ended his much deliberated domestic goal drought after bundling home Anthony Martial’s cross.
Juan Mata then scored late on to ensure Van Gaal’s men took full advantage of Manchester City’s recent wobble, climbing to the top of the Premier League for the first time in more than two years, leaving Van Gaal delighted with his side’s productive start to the season.
“Last season at this stage I think we were in 13th position in the league table, so I’m a happy coach,” he said.
“It’s a nice feeling to be top of the table, it’s the first time in my period so I’m happy.
“I think that Manchester United can win against every team, but you need also luck and today the luck was in the last minute of the first half.”
United lacked an attacking edge at the start of the season, but since the deadline day signing of Martial, the twenty-times-champions seem to be finding their shooting boots once again.
The French forward may not have scored against Sunderland, but his all-round contribution was appreciated by his Dutch manager.
“I am very pleased with the performance of Anthony because he is not only a goalscorer,” he said.
“He is also an attacking point and he also prepares goals, so for us he is more important than I thought before he came.”
Van Gaal was quick to acknowledge that the former Monaco man – like the rest of his team mates – can continue to improve.
“What I want of a striker is that he is an attacking point, that he is running in behind, preparing goals and running to the first post,” said the Dutch manager.
“These are not all the aspects of a striker, but Anthony Martial has done that today so I am pleased with his performance, but he can still be better and other players can be better.”
United’s next Premier League game will see them travel to Arsenal next Sunday and after returning to the top of the league, Van Gaal is well aware of the task he faces against Arsene Wenger’s team.
Van Gaal said: “Next week we have Arsenal away and I think it is one of the most difficult teams to beat in the Premier League, but we won also last year there, so it is possible.”
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