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Manchester United’s defensive problems once again exposed by Leicester City

Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw by Leicester City on Boxing Day
Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw by Leicester City on Boxing Day
ANALYST
Modified 28 Dec 2020, 09:06 IST
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt Manchester United deserved to win against Leicester City when the two teams clashed in the Premier League on Boxing Day.

The Norwegian was not shy to express his disappointment with the 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium but preferred to dwell on the positives.

In truth, there were a lot of positives for the Red Devils, but their defensive frailties undid everything good they did on Saturday.

A sluggish display at the back which led to Bruno Fernandes being dispossessed was what led to Leicester City’s first goal. A lack of concentration also allowed the Foxes back in the game, with Jamie Vardy cancelling Manchester United’s 2-1 lead with just five minutes to the end of the game.

Solskjaer said after the game:

“Disappointed. But then again, you can never switch off. They've got good players and it was a quality goal at the end there, from Vardy - good movement and a proper striker's goal.”

The 47-year-old added:

“But we thought we maybe deserved the win because we'd created the bigger chances. One point is not the worst result but we're disappointed that we didn't get away with three here because it was a very good side we were playing against.”

Blow to Manchester United’s title ambitions

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Manchester United had the chance to end the year in second place and to close the gap on league leaders Liverpool when they faced Leicester on Saturday.

However, while the former is still possible, the latter looks like a forgone conclusion. A win over the Foxes would have seen Manchester United move to within two points off Liverpool, although the Anfield outfit has a game against West Brom on Sunday.

After drawing 2-2 with Leicester though, Manchester United have now dropped to fourth on the Premier League table, and Liverpool could move seven points clear of the Red Devils should they win their game against the Baggies.

Solsjkaer continued:

“I think the feeling in the dressing room was... I was happy seeing them being so flat, [they were] that disappointed. Coming here, it could be a good point but then again we have higher ambitions and standards that we want to live up to. They want to win every game, I want to win every game but the reality is you can't.”

Some draws taste like defeat, and this felt like a two-point loss rather than a point gained for Solskjaer.

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Manchester United going nowhere with this defence

A point against a good team like Leicester City may be worth it on any day. However, Manchester United had the chance to take all three points on Boxing Day.

For much of the game, the Red Devils were in control and reduced Brendan Rodgers’ side to very few clear-cut chances. This was a game that they could have won but they ended up dropping points instead.

In recent weeks, Manchester United have played themselves into contention for the Premier League trophy, despite Liverpool currently standing as the favourites to defend their title.

A critical look at the Red Devils show similarities with their bitter Anfield rivals of three years ago. Like the Liverpool team that Jurgen Klopp built in his first two years, Manchester United currently have enough attacking firepower to beat any opponent. However, the same cannot be said for their defence.

Until Klopp went all out to sign Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker to improve Liverpool’s rearguard, they used to score four and concede three. The aforementioned signings made Liverpool strong both in attack and in defence.

Solskjaer and Manchester United are currently at that stage, and until the Norwegian improves his defence with more quality, Manchester United’s all-firing attackers may just not be enough to bring titles to Old Trafford.

Published 28 Dec 2020, 09:06 IST
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