On Saturday, Manchester United learned the hard way just why the Premier League is the best spectacle of football on the planet.
The Red Devils were expected to bounce back from their draw to Wolves last week and against Crystal Palace, their initial moments did appear to be that of strong possession-play with offensive swagger.
However, the away side were able to net a cheeky goal through Jordan Ayew in the first-half and thereon they continued to frustrate the Red Devils until the very end.
Daniel James did succeed in equalizing late into the game, but it was Palace that secured all three points through Patrick van Aanholt in the 93rd minute.
1. A First for Palace
This is the first time this season that the Eagles have won a game and scored goals. While the underdog aspect did accompany them into Manchester, very few would have anticipated that they would win the fixture.
Their result was one of hard work and dedication. After luck gifted Palace the opener, Roy Hodgson’s lads stuck to their game and bore through the incessant forwards runs from the Red Devils. Their late goal was a simple result of perseverance and managing composure. Classy win.
2. United Struggled To Break Palace Down
The stats alone are overwhelmingly in favor of the home side, particularly in the manner in which they battered Palace’s backline in the second-half.
However, it became painfully obvious that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are not capable of breaking down deep defenses.
In this regard, their lack of a creative midfielder was evident as Jesse Lingard simply didn’t possess the requisite penetrating power. The few moments that Paul Pogba stormed close to the frontline showed why he may be a better bet at no.10 than the Englishman.
A transfer error that will haunt them until January?
3. Daniel James- Old Trafford’s Beloved
The silver lining of this loss is that Daniel James found himself on the scoresheet yet again. If his debut goal against Chelsea was a screamer, then this one was straight from the depths of the spectacular.
More than one supporter in the Theatre of Dreams would have anticipated that the Welshman’s goal would have functioned as the catalyst that would have inspired the Red Devils to grab the winner. The end result was not a Fergie-time antic that the club would wish to see often.
Regardless, James has definitely cemented his spot as a fan-favorite. Apart from the goal itself, he appeared to be United’s most aggressive forward and fans will be hoping for more of the same from him.
4. Penalty Curse Continues
Old Trafford held its breath when Scott McTominay won them a penalty with plenty of time to go in the second-half.
However, Marcus Rashford was unable to score from the penalty-spot. The English striker succeeded in sending Vincente Guaita the wrong way, but his powerful shot hit the woodwork and rebounded away from the goal.
Following Paul Pogba’s failure to convert on Monday, this simply doesn’t bode well for the club’s ability to make the best out of their chances. What makes this particularly frustrating is that few clubs have the luxury of being awarded three penalties in their opening three Premier League fixtures and the Red Devils simply haven’t made the best out of it.
Who will be the next one to take a penalty at Manchester United?
5. Wake Up Call
After securing 4 points in 3 games and being assuredly placed out of the top four this early into the season, United may have got a resounding wake-up call.
The shortcomings against Wolves and Palace have succeeded in exposing the issues that have manifested since their rather misleading 4-0 win against Chelsea.
Solskjaer’s awful timing on substitutions has been a recurring flaw. The same can be said about the lack of communication between the defense and the midfield as well as the tendency to get complacent and lose fluidity. Surely, a player of David De Gea’s quality is well-placed to save the eventual winner against Palace.
These are all issues that United are faced with, and most aren’t any different from those of last season. How will they address these hereon?