Premier League: 3 Reasons why Manchester United drew with Southampton
Manchester United produced another ordinary performance in the weekend's early kickoff as they drew 1-1 with Southampton. Fans expected much from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men when they got off to a flying start in the league with a 4-0 thumping of Frank Lampard's Chelsea. However, the team in red lost to Crystal Palace a couple of weeks later to dampen the spirits.
And they were far from giving their fans any reason to paint the town red on Saturday, when they played out a rather peculiar draw at the St. Mary's Stadium in a Premier League encounter.
Every die hard United fan has been in utter disbelief at the results over the past two weeks. The Red Devils are surely expected to beat teams like Crystal Palace and Southampton, irrespective of the venue. After all, they are a team with legacy, pride and a fan following like none other. However, that counts for nothing when results on paper give fans little to cheer about.
Here are 3 reasons for Saturday's draw at Southampton.
#3 A fiery James, a subpar Pereira and a puzzling Pogba
Daniel James was Manchester United's best player on Saturday. He not only made incisive runs, but carried the ball with supreme skill and confidence. When afforded the opportunity to take a shot, he did not fail to disappoint. He unleashed a deadly missile that hit the target in fine fashion to open the scoring.
While the left wing was in full flow, primarily due to James' brilliance, the right wing posed little threat to Southampton. Andreas Pereira had a very ordinary outing, which wasn't as glaring because their right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, took it upon himself to run down the flank at regular intervals. He infused energy into United's offensive play on the right wing, but it wasn't enough to make up for Pereira's bad day at the office.
Paul Pogba, meanwhile, endured a perplexing game. With each passing match, his discomfort at the club is becoming more evident, thereby hinting that the club might have been better off shipping him in the summer.
He is a pale shadow of the brilliance he has displayed in recent years. It is also hard to believe that he was one of the key men that helped France lift the World Cup, only a year ago.
The Pogba puzzle needs to be sorted if United are to press for titles in the near future.
#2 Did we see different United teams on either side of the break?
Though Southampton started the game with pace and confidence, United stemmed the flow of the Saints and turned the tide to ascertain their dominance over the game. They played some commendably fluid football upfront with the likes of Juan Mata and Scott McTominay in the thick of the action.
However, most of their attacks were directed from the left and this caught the attention of Southampton's manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl.
After the break, United were afforded little space on the left. This nullified the brilliance of James and opened up room for Pereira. But the midfielder was too far from his best to exploit the home side's lopsided defense.
Their attacks broke down before they had a sight at goal and their key play-maker, Juan Mata, saw so little of the ball that he was substituted around the hour mark.
On the whole, United looked completely different from the team that dominated the first half. Even when Kevin Danso was shown a red card with a quarter of the game remaining, the Red Devils were unable to take advantage of Southampton's plight and failed to register anything worthwhile.
Though they pressed during the last ten minutes, the visitors did not look like a team that was destined to win. Unfortunately, they looked like a team that had lost its fizz.
#1 Excellent defence, with the exception of the set piece
If United got one thing right in the summer transfer window, it was their defensive acquisitions. With the arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, the team looks solid at the back. Though Victor Lindelof often seems like the weak link, their defence is certainly a lot better than last year. This was evident during much of the match, with David De Gea given little to do in the first half.
However, a corner did trip them up in the second half as the Spaniard's poor choice of clearing the ball, instead of holding on to it, gave Southampton a second chance to deliver a cross. This time Jannik Vestergaard was in the right place at the right time to head the ball into the back of the net.
It is worth mentioning that though the defence has improved, De Gea's form has seen a steep decline from the days when he was regarded as the most envied goalkeeper on the planet.