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Winners & Losers

Rashford's a bit naughty! Winners, losers and ratings as scolded Man Utd star goes from zero to hero to down Wolves

17:59 EAT 31/12/2022
Marcus Rashford Man Utd 2022-23
After being left out of the line up by Erik ten Hag for disciplinary reasons, the England forward came off the bench to score the winner at Molineux

Manchester United are into the top four of the Premier League table, but they needed Marcus Rashford to save them from a disappointing draw against Wolves as the forward stepped up from the bench to seal a 1-0 win at Molineux.

Erik ten Hag revealed before kick-off that in-form Rashford had been left out for "internal disciplinary reasons", but with United struggling to break down their relegation-threatened hosts, the Dutch coach turned to the England international at half-time.

Rashford came up trumps, scoring one while having another ruled out for handball by VAR as he proved the difference on a day when United's other attackers put in displays to forget.

But who were the biggest winners and losers from Saturday's game? GOAL breaks it down...

  • Marcus Rashford Man Utd 2022-23

    The Winners

    Marcus Rashford:

    All the talk ahead of kick-off at Molineux centred on Rashford following Erik ten Hag's decision to drop the forward due to disciplinary reasons, and now all the talk after the game will focus on the England international, too. Brought on at half-time to give United the spark that they had been missing without him, Rashford stepped up as the game entered its closing stages, trading passes with Bruno Fernandes before driving into the box and firing past Jose Sa for his third goal in as many games since the World Cup. As long as he maintains his discipline, Rashford is undroppable right now.

    Aaron Wan-Bissaka:

    Heading into the January transfer window, it felt almost certain that Wan-Bissaka would be moved on by United this winter, but the waters have now been muddied somewhat. With Diogo Dalot having returned from the World Cup with an injury, Wan-Bissaka has been thrust back into the line-up and has barely put a foot wrong. Against Wolves, he looked to get forward and combine with Antony at every opportunity, while in defence he was excellent, with one superb block in the first half ensuring the teams went in level at the break. United could still let the ex-Crystal Palace man go in January, but they may be forced to think about it slightly more than they would have done a week or so ago.

    David de Gea:

    There was speculation leading into the Premier League's return that Ten Hag was ready to move on from De Gea in the coming months, hence him not being handed the same contract extension that others whose deals end next season got in December. And while there remain doubts over what he can do with the ball at his feet, he showed here that he remains one of the finest shot-stoppers in the Premier League when called upon. De Gea did not have much to do, but stepped up twice in the second half, first to keep out a fizzing Ruben Neves free-kick before palming away Raul Jimenez's close-range header in stoppage time, to move himself up into second in the list of most clean sheets for a United goalkeeper. Only Peter Schmeichel now stands above him.

  • Anthony Martial Man Utd 2022-23

    The Losers

    Man Utd's long-serving centre-backs:

    When Luke Shaw was named as Raphael Varane's centre-back partner against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, illness was cited as the reason for Harry Maguire only being a substitute and Victor Lindelof not being in the squad. But four days on, and Shaw was again at the heart of the United backline at Molineux, with both Maguire and Lindelof named on the bench. This was the clearest sign since Erik ten Hag took over that the usual starting centre-back duo from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign are now well down the pecking order, with the Dutch coach clearly more comfortable playing a left-back in the middle than he is two naturals in the position. It would not be a surprise if both Maguire and Lindelof were now moved on in the next six months or so.

    United's forward line:

    While Rashford came off the bench to be United's hero, the three players that started in attack had afternoons to forget. Alejandro Garnacho was perhaps a little unlucky to be sacrificed for Rashford at half-time, but the teenager did miss a big chance to break the deadlock after being put in on goal by a poor Nelson Semedo back-pass. Anthony Martial and Antony were, however, both very poor, and can be thankful to Rashford for digging them out of a hole. Both should have scored with their heads in the first half, with Martial cutting a particularly frustrated figure as he dropped deep to try to get involved in the game. Antony, meanwhile, continues to flatter to deceive, and though Ten Hag clearly trusts the player who shone so brightly for him at Ajax, there will soon be questions asked as to whether he deserves his place in the side if performances don't improve.

    Diego Costa:

    Costa is yet to score in a Wolves shirt, and if Saturday's performance is anything to go by, it will be a while before he finds the net in the Premier League again. The ex-Chelsea man was bullied by Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw before being replaced by Julen Lopetegui at half-time, and Costa spent the second 45 minutes sat in the stands alongside new signing Matheus Cunha. It would be a shock if Cunha is not brought straight into the line-up to replace Costa when Wolves take on Aston Villa in their next game on Wednesday.

  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka Man Utd 2022-23

    Man Utd Ratings: Defence

    David de Gea (7/10):

    Barely tested but made fine saves when called upon to keep out a Neves free-kick and Jimenez's late bullet header.

    Aaron Wan-Bissaka (7/10):

    Worked tirelessly up and down the right-hand side and made a key first-half block to further highlight his defensive strengths.

    Raphael Varane (8/10):

    Imperious at the back, winning countless headers and making plenty of key blocks.

    Luke Shaw (7/10):

    Again looked comfortable at centre-back, proving Ten Hag right for sticking with him over Maguire and Lindelof.

    Tyrell Malacia (7/10):

    Did well defensively and provided good thrust down the United left when joining in the attack.

  • Casemiro Man Utd 2022-23

    Midfield

    Casemiro (6/10):

    Solid again at the heart of the United midfield. Has mastered the art of the tactical foul and showed plenty of nous when Wolves looked to attack.

    Christian Eriksen (6/10):

    Dictated the tempo with his passing and provided dangerous deliveries from set-pieces, but couldn't find the spark before being replaced on the hour.

    Bruno Fernandes (6/10):

    A mixed showing from the No.8, as he mixed in overhit passes and wayward shots with some neat touches, the most important of which was the assist for Rashford's winner.

  • Alejandro Garnacho Man Utd 2022-23

    Attack

    Antony (5/10):

    Should have scored twice with his head in the first half, and though he got himself into decent positions, still seems a little off where United need him to be in terms of providing the final touch.

    Anthony Martial (4/10):

    Forced to drop deep to get involved in the game as he cut an isolated figure at times. Should have scored with a header seconds before half-time.

    Alejandro Garnacho (6/10):

    Gave Semedo a real headache down the United left but should have scored when denied by Sa. Unlucky to be subbed at half-time.

  • Marcus Rashford Man Utd 2022-23

    Subs & Manager

    Marcus Rashford (8/10):

    Shrugged off being left out of the line up to step up and maintain his excellent scoring run. Unlucky to be denied a second goal by VAR, too. Must get better at setting his alarm clock.

    Fred (6/10):

    Provided energy to the United midfield when replacing Eriksen.

    Donny van de Beek (6/10):

    On for the final 10 minutes but offered little to the game.

    Anthony Elanga (N/A):

    On in stoppage time.

    Harry Maguire (N/A):

    Brought on to help defend set-pieces in stoppage time.

    Erik ten Hag (7/10):

    Again showed his authority in the dressing room by leaving out Rashford but recognised the need to bring on his in-form attacker if his team were to win the game. Positive strides yet again.