After last weekend’s debacle at Anfield, Manchester United have gone two matches in a row in the Premier League without scoring a goal, as they drew 0-0 against Southampton on Sunday afternoon. The match at Old Trafford was goalless, which was helped by the fact Casemiro earned a straight red card a little after half hour. United struggled in attack despite a bigger number of forwards and ultimately lost the chance to win two more points against the worst team in the league.
Refereeing Decision Make A Huge Impact
This match was one of those where the refereeing decision hugely impact the final score and one of those when somehow too many dubious calls occur. The main one was the straight red card Casemiro got after 34 minutes, following his start which had to be checked via VAR replay. While probably most Man United fans will say this was a too harsh decision, there are valid points to be made about the height of Casemiro’s foot during the challenge. But that was not the only situation which made fans talk. There was a handball inside of Southampton’s box which could have (and should have) resulted in a penalty for the Devils. And then there was the late tackle on Garnacho in the Southampton box which resulted on the Argentine teenager leaving the stadium on crutches. VAR was not consulted on that occasion and it all begs a question was Ten Hag justified to say something harsher than saying that the ‘officiating influenced the final score’.
Ten Hag Changes Did Not Work Out
Ten Hag decided to make changes in the lineup for this match and go all-out attack with four attacking-minded players starting behind Wout Weghorst. All of Rashford, Fernandes, Sancho and Antony were there, with Casemiro providing the backup. In the end it did not work, partly because McTominay had to come on for Weghorst to be the only central midfielder. But also Sancho’s performance further reminisced why many still call him a puzzle at United, and Antony lacked directness at right wing to try and create something more for others.
The Starting Back Five Clearer Than Ever
With Ten Hag once more opting for Varane and Martinez as the two central defenders, it seems that we have never been closer to getting a back four (or five, with the goalkeeper) which would not change too much from game to game. It is good that Ten Hag has options in all defensive positions, but Martinez and Varane are proving to be the partnership which will be tough to break up. Luke Shaw had a great game at left-back, further proving he is the best player in the league in his position, while Wan-Bissaka’s presence reminded everyone that it is only at right-back where the competition is clear, as Dalot has had his great performances this season on that flank.
United Set To Finish Third
It was becoming clear, but this match further proved it – Manchester United are on pace to finish third in the Premier League this season. Man City remain 11 points ahead and while United have a game in hand, it is becoming clear they will not be able to get much closer to the champions. On the other hand, Tottenham are just two points behind, but they have also played a match more than United. This is still far from over, but considering everything we have seen this season, it is clear United have been the country’s third best team.
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