Manchester United overturned a two goal lead to salvage a point at Old Trafford against Burnley late on Tuesday night. The Red Devils stretched their unbeaten streak to 9 games under new caretaker manager Solskjaer. It was a typical dramatic late flourish that saw United level the scoreline.
Astute defending from the Clarets and poor finishing from Marcus Rashford enforced a stalemate at half time. The visitors took an early second half lead. Phil Jones attempted a risky pass to Andreas Periera and the midfielder slipped while attempting trickery with the ball. This resulted in a simple attack in front of the goal and Ashley Barnes struck it finely into the net, past a hapless David de Gea.
The hosts were relentless thereafter and dominated the proceedings in terms on possession and shots on goal, however they lacked an incisive cutting edge. Substitutions came in soon but United simply couldn’t provide the X-factor to put the ball past Heaton. The Burnley keeper was by far the most impressive player on the pitch as he regularly denied the Reds a chance to equalise. A second goal for the visitors at the 81st minute from Chris Wood meant the game was done and dusted.
Burnley had almost pulled out a win at the Theatre of Dreams with their valiant defense. Hendricks made a reckless and absolutely needless pull at Jesse Lingard’s arm, in the box. Paul Pogba stepped up and converted it fro the spot to announce the comeback the entire stadium was waiting for. For the last few minutes, almost 20 players crowded the Burnley half. Ashley Young set up a beautiful ball for Sanchez minutes into the added time. Heaton managed to keep away a menacing header from the Chilean but Victor Lindelof scored from the rebound to level things up.
It was definitely an astonishing match for both the sides. However a gratuitous penalty and a calm finish from the Swede International saw United reclaim a point, they had most certainly dropped.
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Here are the five talking points from the game
1.The midfield needs to be Herrera-Matic-Pogba if United are to win matches
United were high on confidence after winning 8 games on the trot. Mata and Andreas Periera were given chances to reduce the workload of Lingard and Herrera. However safe to say the move certainly did not pay rich dividends.
The Brazilian wasn’t anywhere close to doing the work Herrera has done in recent games. United evidently missed the influence of the ex-Athletic Bilbao player on the pitch and it showed on the scoreline. The Brazilian was dispossessed 14 times and made 0 ball recoveries in the entire hour he was there on the field.
2. Fred deserved a starting place over Andreas Periera
Both the Brazilians have an attacking flair, one is an academy product while another is a £52mn summer signing. Since joining the squad, both compatriots have found it difficult to to ascertain their positions in the team. If United are to get value out of their signings they need to start using them in the XI.
Being more experienced than Periera, Fred definitely deserved a place over him in the XI. The upcoming high octane set of matches can prove to be quite detrimental for United’s chance for a top-4 finish, if do not fixate on their first choice midfield pairing. If United have an hopes of upsetting the London clubs in the top-4 race, they need to play their best players and effectively at that too.
3. Lukaku and Rashford playing together will not work
It was interesting to see both the strikers play together for the first time since Ole took over the reigns at the club. Rashford gave up his central position and moved to the left.
Lukaku has his own strengths both figuratively and literally.
He can bully defenders and is an asset for physical duels but lacks the pace. The pace of the forwards was missing in today’s game and it definitely showed on field against Burnely. He simply failed to impress in the central position.
4.Victor Lindelof was once again at his supreme
The ice cool Swede scored from the rebound to level the scores at Old Trafford. He had another impressive night at Manchester against Burnley and continues to be the unrivalled number one centre-back in the team at the moment. There couldn’t have been a better time for him to bring up his first career goal at Manchester United.
He was calm and composed at the back and made impressive tackles. These were his stats at the end of the game.
100% take-ons completed
97.5% passing accuracy
5 ball recoveries
He was just too incredible offensively and defensively.
5.Jose was not the only problem for United this season
Jose had his differences with the squad and the tactics and continuously bemoaned the lack of signings. Today’s game reflected that United do have problems beyond Jose. The absence of Eric Baily and presence of Phil Jones for today’s game was baffling at the best.
United need a natural right-winger who can be rotated with the slowing Juan Mata and Lingard. Ashley Young puts in decent crosses and is good on his feet but the lack of overlapping runs and sprints into the box was clearly felt on the right side. United have been pretty weak on the right flank and this weakness could be severely exploited in the big games. With no new signings incoming it is up-to Ole how he manages the right flank of the team.