Manchester United began their 2020-21 Premier League campaign in the worst imaginable manner when they suffered a 3-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace in their first game. Andros Townsend gave the visitors an early lead before a Wilfried Zaha brace either side of a debut goal from Donny van de Beek gave Palace all three points.
It took just seven minutes for the deadlock to be broken at Old Trafford, but it was the visitors who drew first blood.
Jeffrey Schlupp got the better of Victor Lindelof near the byline and squared the ball across the six-yard box to Townsend that eluded the Manchester United defence. The English winger came in at the back post and fired a precise first-time effort back across goal to give Palace the early lead.
The home side started the second half with greater intent, bringing on Mason Greenwood in place of Dan James at the break.
Despite the attacking change, Manchester United failed to trouble Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal and went further behind on 74 minutes. A lengthy VAR check first awarded Palace a spot-kick and then awarded them a retake after David de Gea was found to have come off his line in stopping Andre Ayew’s first effort. Zaha stepped up to take it this time and made no mistake in doubling Palace's lead.
The next piece of action in the game came in the 80th minute from Manchester United new boy Donny van de Beek who pounced on a loose ball in the box to tuck a shot into the far corner. However, despite the hosts striving to get the equaliser, it was Palace who restored their two-goal cushion when Zaha grabbed his second of the game with a firm shot into the bottom left corner.
The third goal completely knocked the wind out of Manchester United’s sails as the hosts' efforts to claw their way back into the match were negated by Palace’s well-drilled defence.
On that note, here are the five major talking points from a game that leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United with much to ponder while Palace take home three well-deserved points.
5 Talking Points from Crystal Palace's 3-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford
1. David de Gea remains Manchester United’s number one for now
Manchester United’s Spanish shot-stopper David de Gea came under intense scrutiny last season after committing a few notable errors. The return of Dean Henderson from his loan at Sheffield United has now put De Gea's place in the starting-eleven even more tenuous.
A couple of assured performances for Spain during the international break preceding the start of the season looked to have won De Gea the confidence of the Manchester United manager, at least for the start of the new campaign.
However, the Spaniard had a mixed outing on the night, making a couple of smart saves including a penalty that was later retaken but still let in three goals. With Henderson breathing down his neck, De Gea will have to eradicate the errors from his performances if he wants to keep his place in the Manchester United starting lineup going forward.
2. Crystal Palace look extremely well-organised
Crystal Palace, who were looking at going into the new season with a whole host of defenders out injured, upset the form books by defeating Southampton 1-0 in their opening fixture. Proving that their opening-day win was no fluke, Palace repeated the trick away at Manchester United by putting in a resolute display.
As was the case against Southampton, Palace allowed their opponents to retain the lion’s share of possession while they focussed on keeping their shape and frustrating their opponents with dogged defensiveness, which they especially did so after taking the lead.
Palace's display looks even more impressive when one considers the fact that they were missing the likes of Gary Cahill, Scott Dann, James Tomkins and Patrick van Aanholt through injuries and were fielding a back-line that had barely played together before.