Manchester United recorded their second consecutive Premier League draw, after winning a point against Burnley on Boxing Day. The Reds managed to claw their way to a 2-2 draw after a trailing by two goals. Jesse Lingard scored a brace after coming on at half-time, shaking things around and making sure Manchester United stayed unbeaten.
However, that will not please Jose Mourinho. The manager was very critical of his players after a 2-2 draw at Leicester last Saturday, but his team did not respond too well to that. After Chelsea managed to beat Brighton 2-0, the gap between United and the Blues is now a solitary point.
Jesse Lingard Makes Things Happen
The Englishman is in form of his life. He actually started the match on the bench, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic started in the number 10 position. Yet, United looked dire and slow-paced, which slightly changed with Lingard coming on. His energy made Manchester United look more dangerous in second half. He did not only score two goals, but also had a great chance prior to the first of the two, as Nick Pope managed to miraculously save it with his face.
Lingard was not too flustered about that as he scored a cheeky goal 60 seconds later, with his back-heel shot finding way to the bottom corner of the net.
Manchester United Keep Struggling With Defending Set-Pieces
This was something we have seen against Manchester City. Mourinho’s team conceded both goals after scrappy situations and poor defending in the box. That happened again. It was once again a ball sent to the far post where Romelu Lukaku did not react well enough and the ball bounced to Ashley Barnes who opened the scoring after less than two minutes of play.
And it is not only set-pieces, but general defending in the box from crosses. The 94th-minute goal conceded versus Leicester is another example of players not being concentrated, as Harry Maguire made sure Chris Smalling’s mistake was taken.
Odd Choices From Jose Mourinho
There was a weird feeling when the team sheets were made public. Lukaku and Ibrahimovic both started the match, while Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford were playing on the wings. Ashley Young was at right back. None of this was necessarily a terrible choice, but it felt too predictable for a well organized Burnley side.
In the end, what happened was a total of 51 attempted crosses from Manchester United players, trying to find either of Ibrahimovic and Lukaku. Yet none of them are too rapid in their movements and United looked one-dimensional. After all, it all played to the strengths of Clarets.
It Will Be An Odd 2018
Manchester United have one more match to play in 2017, but after today’s draw no one really thinks of this team having any theoretical chance of winning the league. That is not something new, but it is more accentuated. Man United sit in second but will go into 2018 knowing for some time now that the league cannot be won.
That is not much different to previous seasons, but this year there was at least a sense Manchester United could mount a title push. However, with Man City playing in their own league, United must now focus on other things – keeping the second place safe and trying to go as far as possible in the Champions League. That competition could make this season unforgettable for the Reds’ fans.