It was an eventful night at Selhurst Park as Manchester United managed to defeat Crystal Palace 2-0. An altered United starting lineup took its sweet time in finding the goal which came from Marcus Rashford in immaculate fashion late in the first half. As has been the recent trend, Anthony Martial doubled the Red Devils’ lead in the second-half.
Palace nearly had a goal of their own between the two highlights, but Jordan Ayew was ruled to be painfully offside by VAR.
1. Road To Leicester
With this win, Manchester United have now gone on a firm 19-games unbeaten run and have returned to winning ways after the late draw against Southampton.
Points wise, the Premier League’s top-four race looks splendid. With this win, the Red Devils have mathematically knocked out Wolverhampton Wanderers from the Champions League race which leaves just Leicester City and Chelsea competing alongside them for the coveted spots. At this rate, the final game against the Foxes could end up being winner-takes-it-all with goal difference having the potential to play kingmaker.
2. Altered Starting Lineup
United’s efforts did look deflated for much of the early part of the fixture and two starting changes did the trick. The absence of Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams from the left-back’s role due to injury saw Timothy Fosu-Mensah deployed there instead. While fairly decent, the youngster was not able to bring in the pace and attacking height that Shaw normally brings to the game, effectively siphoning away an entire flank from the club’s attacking range and pressurizing Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the opposite end.
Likewise, the absence of Nemanja Matic was felt on several close calls when the defence wasn’t covered. The Serb’s introduction in the final period did liberate the traveling side a lot.
3. VAR-Ruled Out
Roy Hodgson’s men appeared to have snuffed the hope right out of United in the second-half when Jordan Ayew snuck in a deep ball from the corner of the post.
However, a VAR check revealed the geometry of the build-up and the Ghanaian forward was found to be inches offside. Similar controversy appeared to knock when foul against Palace in the penalty area wasn’t given due to the referee’s error not being a clear and obvious one. A hard night for the home-side who have now lost 6 games in a row.
4. Rashford And Martial Chemistry
While a lot has been said as of recent about the partnership between Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, it was Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial who succeeded in lighting up the night.
The attacking duo scored a goal each and now have both have 22 goals to their name for the club, tied at the top-scorer’s spot for the campaign, their career-best.
This chemistry, one that has often been put under the radar for signs of possible selfish competitiveness, was impeccable, perhaps best illustrated by Rashford’s assist to Martial’s goal and the quick succession of chances during the long minutes of added time.
5. De Gea’s Record
After having VAR to thank for the ruled-out goal, David De Gea kept a cleansheet, a vital away one. This is now his 112th Premier League cleansheet, tied with United legend Peter Schmeichel.
While a lot of questions have been asked of him as of recent, the Spaniard did make several picturesque saves during the night. However, especially with the form that Dean Henderson is in, he may have to do a lot more than break records to remain United’s no.1.