Manchester United drew 1-1 with the worst team in the Premier League so far this season. United were in control of the match, having many chances in each half, scoring their only goal in the 69th minute, like they did against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday, with Wayne Rooney providing the assist and Anthony Martial scoring his first goal of the season. Joe Allen found the equaliser for Stoke, earning their first point against United at Old Trafford since the 1980’s.
Jose Mourinho opted for the same team which started against Leicester City which seemed to be the better option as they played well against the Premier League champions and Mourinho seems to keep players who are playing well in his team, rather than replacing them. Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed out yet again, but he only returned to training on Wednesday, so this match seems to have come too soon for him. Perhaps after the international break, he will be given time to prove himself, which is something United could really do with happening to stop the media from putting their stories out there.
United started the match well with Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting a credible shot on target inside the first two minutes, seeing his shot parried by Lee Grant, having a second attempt only moments later. United started the match as the better team, as will have been expected with Stoke in their lowly position at the bottom of the league after a dreadful start this season. Stoke did get two credible shots on target themselves but was thwarted by David De Gea. Stoke have been defending in numbers, doing all they could to stop United from taking an early lead. It could be a long match for them.
Antonio Valencia was shown the first card of the game in the thirteenth minute after a challenge on Eric Pieters, which left him fortunate to still be on the pitch – it could have easily been a red card. Stoke, after their free kick, could have taken the lead after getting into the box, but De Gea again thwarted their efforts. At the other end of the pitch, Paul Pogba was played through on goal after great play between Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot was slightly wide of the target. Both United and Stoke were wearing black armbands in respect to David Herd, a player for both teams, died on Saturday aged 82.
United started to find their feet around the twenty-minute mark, some great interplay between Mata, Pogba, Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford saw Mata hit his shot towards the goal, beating Grant, but slightly off target and over the crossbar. United seem to be nearing the zone to get the better of Hughes’ Stoke side, who really need to find themselves at this stage of the season. Wilfried Bony seems to be out of sorts as the main striker, which could be the start of their problems. Pogba also had another chance to break the deadlock with a header, but it was wide of the target. Jesse Lingard could have broken the deadlock in the 27th minute of the match, but Grant kept the ball out of the net, which was unfortunate.
United could have scored at least four goals at this stage of the match, which shows the team is determined to score, and probably will at some stage of the match. Seeing Pogba play like he is must be something that annoys the media, who seem to enjoy criticising Manchester United players when they don’t perform, especially ones who have cost a lot of money. What a fickle world we live in, eh? At the half hour stage, United were on the attack yet again, Ibrahimovic was running into the box, the cross came in,Zlatan struck towards goal and Ryan Shawcross blocked the shot. United will be unhappy their chances have not resulted in goals, but will also show more determination to find the back of the net.
With just over five minutes of the first half remaining, Eric Bailly fouled Joe Allen, giving away a free-kick in United’s half. The free-kick was a poor one which amounted to nothing for the visitors. If the score remains 0-0 at the end of the first half, United will head into the dressing room wondering why they did not at least bury a few chances, which were coming thick and fast at some stages of the game. United had a few chances in the space of a minute with Ander Herrera striking from distance with the ball being deflected for a throw in, and Pogba had another chance moments later, which was again off target. The second half should be a good one for United, they will need to press on and ensure they have this game in the bag, which is where it should have been already.
Moments after the start of the second half, Stoke were given a free-kick, which amounted to nothing based on the fact the whistle was blown for offside, although De Gea had the ball and knocked it over the crossbar. United immediately went on the attack with Pogba striking towards goal, and the ball was pushed out for a corner, taken by Mata, which also amounted to nothing. United need to start taking their chances with the view of actually scoring goals, which is what they need with the match still at 0-0. Stoke will feel they still have something to take from this match, until United find the back of the net, of course. In two minutes, both Herrera and Ibrahimovic were given yellow cards, Herrera for going studs up into Allen in a challenge where he tried to get the ball, but was late to get it, an accident if you will. The Swede was shown his card for clattering Shawcross when both jumped to head the ball.
United, still chasing that elusive goal were still getting forward and getting shots off, but still nothing worthy enough to beat Grant and put themselves ahead for the first time in the game. Time is starting to run out and United just do not seem to be getting more clinical. If this game goes against them, it could give them a fortnight of criticism from the media as they should really be getting the better of this Stoke side, who are at the bottom of the league table and should still be at the bottom of the table this evening, no disrespect aimed at them, honest. Herrera had a great chance to put United ahead with a long-range effort from outside of the box, but like United earlier chances, it was wide of the mark.
Mourinho made his first change of the match with a double substitution; Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial replaced Mata and Lingard. Almost immediately. United broke through with Rooney setting up Martial to score his first goal of the season, from an angle, beating Grant, who had a great game so far. United seemed resurgent and that little bit more clinical in front of goal with chances coming thick and fast. Stoke seem out of the game at 1-0 down, and it could be much worse for them by the time the match is over. United need to ensure they take all three points, but the media will still be mocking as so far, they have only managed to score one goal past the side at the bottom of the table. Three points are three points, though, you don’t get any more points for the amount of goals you score, but United will feel somewhat shortchanged if they fail to score at least a second goal.
With ten minutes to go, Shawcross took Martial out just outside the box, not receiving a card for his challenge, despite it being blatant. United won the free-kick, taken by Rooney, direct to goal, but Grant kept hold of the ball. Stoke immediately went on the attack to try and get something from the game, which was still open despite United being a goal to the good. United did concede that goal with Joe Allen the player to beat De Gea and level the score. United may well have hit a new low point in seeing a lowly team get something against them. Poor at its best.
United made their final change of the match with Memphis Depay replacing Herrera. United had minutes left to change the game and get that winning goal, which with all due respect they should have had in the first half by taking their chances in the match. Ibrahimovic had another shot on goal, but if was deflected wide by Grant. Marcus Rashford had a chance by running up the right flank, getting the ball into the box, before it was put out for a corner, which Rashford took himself, put into Pogba, who rattled the crossbar. United were running out of chances. There was a final chance for United at the end of the second half which saw Wayne Rooney on the ball at the edge of the box. Does he shoot, no? He passed it out wide to his left, allowing Stoke to get more men in the box and thwart the effort to find the winner, which Rooney could have scored, should he have thought of it. Poor decision by the (finished) captain.
Goals: Anthony Martial 69′
Assists: Wayne Rooney 69′
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Herrera (Memphis 83′), Pogba; Lingard (Martial 67′), Mata (Rooney 67′), Rashford; Ibrahimovic
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Darmian; Carrick, Fellaini;
Bookings: Antonio Valencia 13′, Ander Herrera 54′, Zlatan Ibrahimovic 56′