1. Crystal Palace showed grit and guile against United in this Selhurst Park encounter and could have easily taken a point home on another day. At the end, United’s class mattered, as two well worked goals gave United the win and put them again on level points with Leicester, albeit with a slightly inferior goal difference. Roy Hodgson played two up-front for Palace, as Zaha joined Ayew up-top and they managed to create several problems for the United defence. The latter defended boldly but were often on their back foot, particularly against the trickery of an inspired Zaha. The same two-upfront tactic was used by Southampton in the last United match and such a formation is clearly creating problems for United. We lack genuine pace in the centre of defence and although Lindelof had a decent game, we need a more athletic defender to partner Maguire in our defence for next season. Period.
2. Those United players out there look tired, as playing every three days with heightened temperatures is taking its toll on the players. The skill and technique are still there but the sharpness shown in the first matches post-COVID diminished markedly. United had an extra player in midfield today, as with two up-front and McArthur shifting to the left to defend against Wan Bissaka’s surges forward resulted in a numerical advantage for United in the middle of the park. Unfortunately, our midfielders did not take advantage of this factor, particularly in the first half. The amount of mistakes in passing I’ve noticed from Fernandes and also Pogba to a certain extent, I had never seen before. They were not sharp enough mentally and a number of the remarkable runs by our forwards were not met with the appropriate through balls, which would have put our players one-on-one on the Palace keeper in a number of occasions. Quicker changes of play and more precise passes would have been important, not just today.
3. I need to highlight the understanding that our forwards have been showing during matches. In particular, the duo of Rashford-Martial has been very effective in the last month, especially Rashford in these last two matches. Marcus has been in going from strength to strength following an extended period on the side-lines with a back injury. He scored one today and assisted the other, both brilliantly constructed and converted goals. He’s getting close to his top form in just the right time.
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