Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace: 5 men who were brilliant for Solskjaer
At the end of the full time whistle, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had steered Manchester United to eight consecutive away wins for the first time in the history of the club. Ever since taking over, the Norwegian faced a plethora of challenges at Old Trafford and has responded to each of them amazingly well. However, nothing could have prepared him for the muddle that awaited him before the Crystal Palace game.
Six regular team members – Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera – were battling injuries in the build up to the game. Five of them were ruled out of the tie, while Rashford could only make the bench. As such, Solskjaer had a selection worry ahead of the tie.
While he managed to keep the back 5 intact, the midfield had a makeshift look to it. Fred got a rare start alongside McTominay and Pogba. The front three raised a lot of eye brows too – Diogo Dalot was drafted in alongside Lukaku – who started as the No. 9 – and Alexis Sanchez.
But even though his team looked shaky on paper, Solskjaer knew his players well. The United Manager had made subtle changes to his team, but still masterminded a vital away win at a crucial time in the season.
In the end, United won 3-1 on a ground where it has traditionally been hard for them to conjure up points. The Norwegian deserves all the credit for his clever tactics, but he has these five players to thank for the historic win.
#5 Paul Pogba
The Frenchman started in an unfamiliar position on the right of the midfield three, to accommodate Fred in the team and the change of position took a toll on him in the opening stages. Pogba struggled to play his natural game, and looked off the pace at the start.
However, like a true champion, he adapted himself to the requirements of his team and grew in stature as the game progressed. Partnered with the inexperienced Fred and McTominay, the Frenchman had a restrained outing, as he helped his midfielders out of tricky situations. Because Fred struggled to get a foothold of the proceedings, Pogba had to stay alert and it affected his attacking play.
However, every time Pogba bombed forward, he looked threatening and it was from one such counter attack that he set up Ashley Young to score United’s third.