Manchester United slumped to another 1-1 draw, this time against West Ham, which was the fourth home draw in the last four matches. Failure to put the ball in the back of the net, despite having plenty of chances, is again the lead cause of United’s inability to win, but that being said, the referees, opposition player’s and simple bad luck can also be attributed. Now eight points outside the top four, what is next for United?
Manchester United did not start the match well, as Jesse Lingard’s foul on Dimitri Payet allowed him to cross from a free kick for Diafra Sakho to score. It was a stupid foul from Lingard, especially considering he knew who would be taking the set-pieces, My prediction that Payet would be a telling influence on the match was clear from the start.
United took 21 minutes to get back into the game, but they eventually did, as an excellent ball from Paul Pogba found Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Swede headed home. Back in form, Ibrahimovic and Pogba along possess the potential to win matches for United alone.
In the 26th minute, Paul Pogba was (reasonably) booked for diving, and Jose Mourinho was sent off for kicking a water bottle. Are you kidding me? Jurgen Klopp abused an official yesterday in Liverpool’s match, saying “are you f**king kidding me,” and it was considered a statement of passion and intent. The referees and officials in this country are absolutely biased and there needs to be a serious look in the eye of the FA after this incident.
Rashford was set up one-v-one against Darren Randolph in the 36th minute, but he missed his chance because Randolph was off his line to make a good save. Randolph, sure man of the match in the first half, denied everything that came his way until half time.
The first twenty minutes of the second half did not yield success, until Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Wayne Rooney replaced Juan Mata and the misfiring Marcus Rashford. Both Mkhitaryan and Rooney were excellent on Thursday and seemed good subs at the time of action from Jose Mourinho. Also getting on the pitch was Ashley Fletcher, former United striker who left for West Ham in the summer.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s shot hit the post and Lingard’s rebound goal was disallowed for offside, which was just completely frustrating. Soon after, Pogba took a great shot from long range that could only be parried by Darren Randolph. United threw the final roll of the dice by bringing on Fellaini for Lingard.
Ultimately, though, United couldn’t find the vital goal yet again and paid the price with two more points. The referees, the luck, and the opposition goalkeeper were all easy to blame, but ultimately United could have won the match and did not. This run could prove vital at the end of the season, but for now, United simply needs to focus on winning as many matches as possible and keeping Michael Carrick in the side.
Some decisions will also need to be questioned, though. For example, Rashford would have been a great player to have off the bench, but he was instead deployed out of position. Where has Anthony Martial been, yet again, when it seems he could be on the verge of finally producing something for United? Why was Jesse Lingard on the pitch over Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who made a greater impact in 20 minutes than Lingard did in an hour (besides being at fault for the opposition goal)? Mourinho still has not answered all the questions around this squad, as Louis van Gaal and David Moyes needed to do, and the fans cannot really tell either anymore.
Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 21′
Assists: Paul Pogba 21′
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Herrera, Pogba; Lingard (Fellaini 84′), Mata (Rooney 64′), Rashford (Mkhitaryan 64′); Ibrahimovic
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Blind; Young, Schweinsteiger
Bookings: Paul Pogba 27′, Marouane Fellaini 87′, Antonio Valencia