Manchester United lost their first points of the 2017-18 Premier League season after a 2-2 draw against Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku scored as the Reds were unable to brush Mark Hughes’ team aside at the Bet365 stadium. Eric Choupo-Moting scored a brace to keep Stoke undefeated at home this season, following an impressive victory against Arsenal earlier.
It was an eventful match throughout, yet Manchester United showed many different faces. From coming back into the match right after Choupo-Moting’s opening goal, to losing their lead quickly after retaining it.
Manchester United Showing Weaknesses
This was the first Premier League match in which Manchester United showed their weaknesses. In opening three rounds it all went smoothly, but this time Stoke decided to fight. And they fought hard. Man United had troubles stopping Jese Rodriguez on several occasions, while only the superb David De Gea was the reason why Spaniard could not score on the day.
Stoke City had five shots on target with just 36 percent of possession. It showed their directness and speed, something Man United defensively struggled against this Saturday.
A Proper Left Back Needed
Matteo Darmian filled the left back position instead of Daley Blind. He played in the same position during pre-season friendly matches. Yet, he was obviously struggling at times. Premier League is the toughest league for obtaining time on the ball, something a right-footed player always needs when on the opposite side of the pitch.
On few occasions it was obvious Darmian did not feel confident enough to play with his left foot. He would turn towards the middle of the pitch and then play forwards with his right foot, slowing down United’s attacks. Daley Blind and Luke Shaw would be much more composed playing in to-them natural position.
Lukaku Shows What He Is All About
Manchester United managed to beat comfortably Leicester City despite Romelu Lukaku failing to convert a penalty. It was his first competitive match since arriving from Everton in which he had not scored. This time, he was back at his best.
The manner in which he scored the goal against Stoke tells a lot about the Belgian. It was not impressive nor was it beautiful. He managed to run away from his defender – something he mastered – and get himself in a 1v1 position. Lukaku shot unconvincingly but Butland saved. Yet, the Belgian was there to pick the scraps and shoot once again, this time precisely.
It was not pretty, but he did his job of scoring a goal.
Stoke City Did A Great Transfer Window
We would have to applaud Mark Hughes and Stoke City for the job they did in the transfer market. That is, if their signings continue playing the way they did so far. Kurt Zouma became a very important piece of the defensive puzzle of Stoke’s. He was pretty good once again, winning all the duels and collecting two successful tackles.
More visibly, Eric Choupo-Moting and Jese were also magnificent. Jese scored the only goal in the win over Arsenal, on his debut. This time, it was Choupo-Moting to score a brace and show Manchester United they will have to hide their weaknesses if they want to return to battering opponents the way they did in August.