CRYSTAL PALACE vs MANCHESTER UNITED
31.10.2015

Coming off the back of the exit at the hands of Middlesbrough in the League Cup United needed to at least score a goal!

PERSONNEL

In: De Gea, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Rooney, Herrera and Martial.
Out: Romero, Carrick, Fellaini, Lingard, Pereira, Memphis and Wilson.

KEYPOINTS

  • This was United’s third consecutive game without a goal and the fourth which was a draw. It was a turgid affair and is best quickly forgotten.
  • The take on chart showed how unadventurous United were. Where’s the risk taking?
  • Clubs appear to be dealing with the new revelation that is Martial and we need more inventiveness both from him and those around him in order to develop his game further.
  • There was no cutting edge up front from United – one shot on target is poor.
  • Mane was impressive, his speed would be a fine addition to any team but he does seem to tail off towards the end of games.
  • United kept themselves relatively well spread across the pitch in response to Palace’s congested midfield, but the options available vertically were few.
  • De Gea played an important part in keeping United in the game.

FIRST HALF

Pardew introduced Gayle and Zaha from the previous game and they played a part in pressing United back high up the pitch, they forced an early save from De Gea after a misplaced pass from Darmian was interrupted by Bolasie.

First half starting shape

First half starting shape

Darmian appeared hesitant and has done generally after a bright start to the season. Zaha really pressed on him this afternoon.  Darmian will come good though for sure though.

Take-ons

Take-ons

There was a brief resurgence from United in terms of possession and a Rooney free kick along with a one on one with Hennessey. These were United’s only flirtation with the Palace goal. Direct passes from Martial to Rooney were few and far between. Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin made the odd one or two but there’s not enough options beyond the receiver when these passes are made. For example, after the great ball from Rooney to Herrera the Spaniard could only see Mata in the box. Mata against Delaney and Dann, that’ll work!

SECOND HALF

United looked to build on their slight dominance in the first half, they had enjoyed 60% possession but only one real chance came to United’s attacking focal point Rooney who is continuing to receive criticism. Pundit Charlie Nicholas feels that, “Everything is hard work and they have this routine where Rooney starts and he tries to feed himself into the game. He gets very little to work off.”

Second half shape

Second half shape

As is Rooney’s way he wants to be involved and he often dropped back. This resulted in the situation in the first half with Mata was up front on his own.

Martial was asking questions of the full back Kelly and this saw Pardew swap him for Ward, the opposite full back. Pardew then swapped his wingers; Palace were involved much more now.

You could hear the groan from the travelling Reds as the usual United substitute Fellaini came on for Schweinsteiger on 69 minutes. At this time Martial was moved up front.

Palace relying on the counter-attack

Palace relying on the counter-attack

As the game wore on Palace put less emphasis on the press and more on the counter.

CONCLUSION

Both teams played a 4-2-3-1 and cancelled each other out and this led to a very dull game.

 Palace congested the middle of the pitch and United couldn’t do anything about this. The lack of “creativity” and “spark” that Paul Scholes commented on after the Middlesbrough game are clear and are becoming an albatross around the United players necks.

 There was poor ball retention and few chances created by United. The verticality needs to improve to stretch rigid defensive lines. There IS too much square passing which doesn’t stretch people.

 Van Gaal said after the game that, “I have to say I can’t complain about the result.”

 We can.