Manchester United have been stumbling badly over the past few weeks, and the negative streak continued this Tuesday on Boxing Day.
The Red Devils had a golden chance to potentially shorten the gap with Manchester City at the top of the standings since they hosted Burnley. However, they looked like a lackluster side during the first half, and at times they even looked overmatched. A second-half reaction and a stellar effort from Jesse Lingard allowed Manchester United to escape with a draw, but their overall performance was uninspiring at least.
Here’s our one-on-one analysis from Tuesday’s match against The Clarets:
David De Gea – 5
Once again De Gea did not look like the world-class goalkeeper he is, especially during the first half. The Spaniard conceded two early goals to an uninspiring attacking line, and he does not look like the big-name stopper he was early in the season. His recent form essentially confirms what many experts said in recent weeks: when De Gea is not at his best, United struggles defensively. To be honest, he did not have much blame in the two goals he conceded, though.
Ashley Young – 7
An incredible performance from the former winger, who is now looking like a player capable of featuring on both flanks with equal ease. The former Aston Villa star has been forced to play as a full-back in recent weeks to remain as a relevant first-team player, and the experiment has paid benefits thus far. Young will never be the most talented player on defence, but he is a threat going forward. And he showed that once again when he assisted Jesse Lingard for United’s first goal with a perfect low cross.
Phil Jones – 5
The England international did not have his best performance on the defensive end. He struggled with the strength of the opposing attackers in the first half, but ended turning things around in the second 45 minutes. Operated mostly through the right side of the defence, and tallied five clearances and one interception during the contest.
Marcos Rojo – 4
Lost several duels at the back, including an aerial one in the play that led to Burnley’s first goal. Won just one of the four duels in which he engaged, and finished with one clearance and one interception. He has played better in recent weeks, but perhaps he is just tired considering he has played regularly since returning from a long injury absence.
Luke Shaw – 6
Shaw got another chance to impress the coaching staff and while he did not have his best outing, it’s safe to say he did not struggle either. The former Southampton defender looked competent on both ends of the pitch, and finished with six clearances. He also represented a threat going forward, as evidenced by his 12 crosses. Unfortunately, none of those were accurate, and that hurt his rating overall.
Paul Pogba – 7
Pogba was heavily criticised for his lackluster effort in United’s 2-2 draw against Leicester last week. And even though he looked far better in this game, more is expected out of him. The French playmaker is just too good to be a “good enough” player. He needs to be far more decisive.
Nemanja Matic – 6
Had some good moments in midfield, but surprisingly he looked poor in set-piece situations on the defensive end. In fact, he looked extremely passive on the sequence that led to Burnley’s first goal. He bounced back in the second half and ended limiting the impact of the opposing playmakers. He needs to bounce back to his early-season form.
Juan Mata – 5
Mata was coming off one of his best performances in a United shirt after scoring a brace against Leicester City this past weekend. However, the Spaniard wasn’t able to build on that, and delivered a rather ineffectual effort against a hard-working Burnley side. Mata finished the game with two key passes, five crosses and one shot off target, but he wasn’t accurate on his final touch and most of his play did not offer much of a threat for the opposing defence.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 4
Zlatan got his first Premier League start since returning from injury, but the Swedish did not deliver and failed to make much of an impact. Ibrahimovic operated on a deeper role as a n°10, but looked quite uncomfortable and struggled to make an impact overall. In fact, he was so bad that he didn’t even take one shot on goal, and Jose Mourinho decided to take him off during halftime and replace him with Jesse Lingard. The move would pay off in the end, as the skillful winger would have quite an impact during the second half.
Marcus Rashford – 6
The talented youngster replaced Anthony Martial on the left-wing role, and he was one of United’s best players. Rashford operated through the entire left flank on the final third, and the numbers back that up. He finished with four key passes, nine crosses, one big chance created, and one shot on target. Considering how he looked and Martial’s recent form, it seems Rashford will remain as a starter in the upcoming weeks.
Romelu Lukaku – 5
The Belgian marksman didn’t have a very good performance. He looked quite good when he dropped deeper against Leicester City last week, but this time he wasn’t able to replicate that kind of outing. The presence of Zlatan forced him to play between the centre-backs, and he was annulled with relative ease. In fact, Lukaku finished the game with just one shot off target across the whole contest. That’s not good enough for a player of his caliber.
Jesse Lingard – 8
Lingard was the undisputed Man of the Match for United despite the fact he only played 45 minutes. The talented winger scored both goals for The Red Devils, and was a huge problem for a Burnley defence that did not have enough weapons to stop him. Lingard netted his first goal with an incredible backheel following a low cross from Young, and evened things up on stoppage time with a one-timer from inside the box that went out of Nick Pope’s reach. He changed the game for The Red Devils.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 6
The Armenian playmaker had one final chance to impress Mourinho, and it seems he knew this would be a “final chance” for him. Mkhitaryan operated as an attacking midfielder on the right side, and looked quite active as he finished with one key pass, two crosses, one shot off target, and one dribble completed.