In Manchester United’s second successive Premier League game at Old Trafford, they fail to win yet again, this time drawing 1-1 to Rafa Benitez’s Everton, equalising through Andros Townsend from a well worked counter attack after Man Utd took the lead just before half time through Anthony Martial; With both teams sharing the points, they stay level on points with each other after both teams having the chance to top the Premier League table with a win.
Solskjaer: “We were in total control, dominating the game and conceded from a corner that we had. We have started better than last season but it is not what we wanted.”
Solskjaer was brave with his selection, rotating key players after the quick turnaround from Wednesday’s late night game against Villarreal, dropping Ronaldo, Pogba and Sancho to the bench for Cavani, Martial and Fred, Luke Shaw and Wan-Bissaka also returned after missing out in midweek.
Solskjaer on team selection: “No regrets, we make decision on a long season. Decision was the correct one. Martial did well. Edinson needed minutes and got an hour. We have to make those decisions at times.”
Benitez set up his team in a very compact 4-4-2, starting Pickford in goal, a back four of Godfrey, Mina, Keane and Digne, a midfield four of Gordon, Allan, Doucoure and Townsend with Gray and Rondon up front.
Man Utd started the game on the front foot, the energy of the team was really good, winning the ball high up the pitch and keeping possession of the ball in good areas and not allowing Everton to break away, the first chance for United fell to Martial, good work from Wan-Bissaka to get past Digne to cross the ball to the back post, Martial mistimed the jump for a free header and headed the ball wide.
United loss control of the game for the majority of the second half, Everton, without having much of the ball, were able to keep United out of the danger areas and were quick in the transition to create some opportunities for themselves, but no big chance amassed from this pressure.
United had another great chance with a header in the first half, this time it was Edison Cavani, a ball came into the box from the left hand side, Cavani was able to find a yard of space between him and the defender to have a free header but it forced a good save from Pickford to keep the game level.
United’s goal came moments before half time, Bruno picked the ball up in the middle of the pitch, just outside the penalty area, with a good touch he turned and noticed Martial’s run on the left hand side, a perfectly weighted through ball allowed Martial to run on and hit the ball first time to get it past Pickford in goal to give United the led going into half time.
Solskjaer: “Anthony did well, could’ve had one or two more of course — very good goal by the way, how we played and switched the play.”
The start of the second half was more of the same from both sides, United dominating the possession of the ball but not troubling the Everton backline enough to threaten to score, Everton kept on with their compact 4-4-2 shape and worked very well without the ball to keep Unitedfrom creating opportunities.
Solskjaer made some early second half opportunities, bringing on like for like replacements, taking off Cavani and the goal-scorer Martial and replacing them with Ronaldo and Sancho.
Everton equalised on the 65th minute through Andros Townsend, a poorly taken corner by Bruno hit the front man, it was cleared towards Demari Gray, he shrugged of a couple challenges by Fred and found a good run made by Doucoure through the middle, who occupied the defenders, leaving space for Townsend free to his right, he had a free shot on goal and cleanly struck it into the bottom corner to give the visitors an equaliser.
For the rest of the game, it was all United dominating the ball, but as per usual, unable to make any inroads on the Everton defence, there were a few half chances falling for Ronaldo and Pogba, and Sancho had a good appearance of the bench, but it ended up Everton who thought they took the lead late on but it was ruled out as Yerry Mina was ruled to be offside.
With United dropping points and failing to capitalise on the opportunity to top the table, more questions will be asked of the management, as for the ninth game in a row at Old Trafford, United fail to keep a clean sheet, very worrying for a team with aspirations of winning silverware this season.
Bruno Fernandes: “We should win this game. We should create more chances. We should not concede that kind of goal. It’s not the first time and we have to look at our mistakes and see what we can do.”
“We drop points at home and we should not do that. These last two games at home was not good enough in the Premier League. If we want silverware at the end of the season we have to do much better.”
It is now the international break, a break that is probably needed for Solskjaer, as for the last few games United have looked especially poor, especially considering the calibre of opposition compared to United, and after the international break, it won’t get any easier for Solskjaer and his squad, with the next games being Leicester (A), Liverpool (H), Tottenham (A) and Man City (H), meaning United will have to respond if they want to win silverware in the league this season