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What We’ve Learned: left-back problems, no plan B, lacking creativity, Lingard not performing, no point to Mata

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace in the Premier League at Old Trafford. A lack of creativity was the ultimate problem for United, who had tested their luck at times? A missed penalty by Marcus Rashford and an equaliser for Daniel James seemed positive for United, however, a late winner for Palace left United reeling, again.

It was a match that United, despite having the better of their opposition in terms of possession, creativity was something that was lacking and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to find a solution, which is not Jesse Lingard or Juan Mata. With players like Angel Gomes in the squad, utilising them would make a lot of sense rather than players who don’t do much.

United lacking creativity is a big worry though, especially in the fact that they have not yet faced the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and Arsenal. It is the first defeat of the season, it could be a blessing in disguise to get things right in this team or it could be the first of many this season. The reaction against Southampton will be key.

The left-back position is a problem.

Luke Shaw was taken off at 34 minutes against Crystal Palace due to a suspected hamstring injury. Ashley Young replaced the left-back, which might see him start regularly whilst Shaw is out of action. Obviously, the club has not confirmed how long Shaw might be out for, stating that the player will have a scan on Sunday.

He might be fit to face Southampton next weekend, however, he might now. Young is a backup this season, not a player that many want to see play a predominate role at left-back. Diogo Dalot is on the sidelines through injury also, so depth in this area is lacking. Demetri Mitchell could well recover from injury, Brandon Williams could be an option.

United need a plan B what their main plan is not working.

United do not have another plan in their game this season. There once was a time whereby United would bring on Marouane Fellaini to give an extra dimension to the team, playing long balls to win the game. A goal is a goal no matter where it comes from. United has used 15 players in three matches this season and still there is no other plan.

When things don’t go the right way, patience seems to be the only thing the players adopt, presuming that continuing the same way will heed the results they want. If it has not worked for 85 minutes, why will it work in five minutes? Solskjaer needs to find another plan as United find it difficult facing teams who defend in numbers.

Creativity is lacking in this team.

It seems quite clear that the Chelsea match was a false dawn. Scoring four goals in one match seemed so easy, yet it is clear that Chelsea side were not quite good enough at the time. It was good to see though. If you don’t take advantage of your opposition when you can, there is something wrong with the game. Creating goals will be a problem.

There was part of me that thought this season would be a good one. My heart at least. My head knew that it was only a period of time whereby United would be found out. The lack of creativity in the team was problematic last season and it has not really been addressed. Against Chelsea, it looked good but two goals in two games suggests otherwise.

Jesse Lingard’s number ten role is surely over with the likes of Angel Gomes waiting in the wings.

Jesse Lingard is not performing. There are no nice words to say about it. When playing in the central area of the attacking midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation, just behind the striker, creativity is key to performances. If the player is not performing, the team is left to pull the weight of this player. Lingard has been off the boil for a long time.

Lingard has scored 17 goals, assisting 10 more in 114 Premier League appearances. That is poor for a player to play in such a position. Angel Gomes is a lively player, at least whilst playing academy football. Chances are that he could transfer that to playing first-team football. Lingard covered some ground, doing nothing of note against Crystal Palace.

To play for United, if you are not going to be creative and disappear in matches, what is the point in that player being picked in the team. Lingard needs to earn his place back in the team Solskjaer needs to find a solution, seeing as he didn’t bring in creativity in the summer. Starting Gomes ahead of Lingard would be a starting point to finding a solution.

Bringing Juan Mata on late in the game does nothing.

Juan Mata has been brought on as a late substitute three times by Solskjaer this season. Mata came on with four minutes to go against Chelsea, with United in a winning position. He then came on with nine minutes left against Wolverhampton Wanderers at 1-1, then today, against Crystal Palace for five minutes with United 1-0 down.

I find it hard to see what this gives United. Mata has played 18 minutes of football this season and for a player in the twilight of his career, no matter his ability to read the game, seems a little strange, especially when Andreas Pereira is not used and Angel Gomes does not even get a place on the bench.

United will need to respond to the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at St Mary’s on Saturday when they face Southampton. The Saints have had a mixed season, losing their first two matches this season; Burnley (3-0) and Liverpool (2-1) but winning their third; Brighton and Hove Albion (2-0) somewhat convincingly. The response next weekend will be telling.

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