Manchester United was forced to settle for a last-gasp equalizer at home to Burnley as Jose Mourinho’s men continue to fall adrift of league leaders City.
It could have been far worse for the hosts had they not grabbed two comeback goals through substitute Jesse Lingard.
Sean Dyche’s men continue to find themselves in the hunt for European football and might be frustrated that they didn’t win today after leading 2-0 through Ashley Barnes and Steven Defour.
But what did we learn?
1. United’s inability to defend crosses is becoming a problem
If Leicester’s Harry Maguire last Saturday took advantage of Man United’s weakness defending crosses, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes has repeated it with amazing ease. Two points lost against Leicester and now two more against the Clarets because of the lack of concentration and positioning that is so unusual for a Mourinho team. Too many points lost for a team who aspires to fight for the Premier League title or even the Champions League one.
It is, even more, striking for a team with such height in its squad. In terms of physicality, Man United is one of best teams in Premier and in Europe, so it is unforgivable to have such kind of problems when defending free kicks or corners.
As for Mourinho’s usual organization – what organization?
2. Mou says goodbye to Premier League title
Manchester United are already 12 points behind their bitter rival Manchester City and Pep Guardiola’s team still have to face Newcastle United this Wednesday, so the gap could reach 15 points.
With Chelsea winning, they are looking over their shoulder more than chasing down City – and it is now almost certain (if not mathematically) that the title is gone.
The problems shown by Mourinho’s team during the last few games have confirmed that they are not yet ready to fight for the Premier League. The intense summer transfer period seems not to have changed almost anything in terms of way of playing and results, and somehow lucking their way to a Champions League title is now the only real hope for the second half of the season.
3. Burnley’s dream continues edging towards reality
Burnley’s fans could probably not have dreamed a better start at Old Trafford, as Barnes scored after just three minutes. But the Clarets’ dreams seem to be becoming reality this season.
The team, coached by Sean Dyche, is seventh now in Premier League and continue in the continental chase with 33 points out of 60.
Last season they had 40 points after 38 matches, now 35 after 20. And now comes the winter transfer window. One or two signings could brace Dyche’s squad and propel them into the Europa League – something we never thought we’d never be saying.
4. Too many roosters for the same yard
A Spanish saying to describe a Mancunian problem. Jose Mourinho decided to start both Ibrahimovic and Lukaku, and he will likely not do that again. Playing both strikers, Lukaku was pushed increasingly to the right wing, where his skills were wasted. Moreover, Ibrahimovic’s performance was really poor and he was replaced by a hero (of sorts) Lingard after the break.
For Mourinho, the introduction of Lingard and Mkhitaryan in the second half completely changed United’s shape and mood. The problem being, at that point it was too late and their uphill struggle produced just a point. Two lumbering center-forwards getting in each others’ way was not a tactic that worked and it shouldn’t be repeated.
5. Lingard is still Mou’s joker
But there was not only bad news for Man United. England international Jesse Lingard has not been always in Mourinho’s starting line-ups but his performances in recent games – even if only from the bench – have shown him worthy of a starting nod. Against Burnley, he scored the two goals they needed, including an amazing backheel, which led United’s fans to dream of a Boxing Day comeback victory.
In addition to his obvious attacking and dribbling skills, Lingard contributes to the team with a great defensive attitude, something rarely seen in some other United players. Perhaps this draw against Burnley has made it clear to Mourinho that Lingard’s presence in the line-up is mandatory if he wants to not drop needless points.
Source: The Independent