Manchester United had a big chance to extend their run of winning matches to eight league games, with their next fixture being at home to Burnley, a side that have managed to go on their own winning run in recent weeks. With the side being only a few points behind the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, it was important for the Red Devils to pick up the three points and in a secure manner.
Overall, United experienced one of those nights where nothing was going well for them in the final third of the pitch and they were struggling to create constant clear-cut chances. However, the home side unsurprisingly fell asleep on a few typical occasions, which allowed the visitors to pounce on the lack of concentration from the defenders to score twice in the second half through Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.
Majority of the supporters thought the game was done and dusted, though, the introduction of Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard turned the momentum around as they began to play the ball at a high tempo and with attacking intent. United first pulled a goal back through a Paul Pogba penalty, and then minutes later, achieved the equaliser as Victor Lindelof scored his first goal for the football club.
Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…
United’s toughest battle yet at home
It is probably straightforward to say that the Burnley fixture has been Solskjaer’s biggest test so far this season, not due to the end outcome, purely because of the fact that Sean Dyche’s men were defending in their own half for majority of the match. Due to the opposition’s setup, it forced United to play in an uncomfortable way that led them to managing zero shots on target in the first half.
Not only that, Tom Heaton was having one of his best games, or else, the hosts would have easily scored a further two or three goals on another day. Since the arrival of the interim coach, United have played the likes of Burnley, Brighton, Bournemouth and Huddersfield at Old Trafford, which does mean that this stalemate has to be seen as a wakeup call for the manager and the players before the big fixtures kick in.
Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were missed badly
Ole made a couple of changes and they were pretty much required, especially to make sure that the squad as a whole, received enough game time ahead of the make or break February fixtures. Against Burnley, the likes of Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Phil Jones and Romelu Lukaku were brought into the line-up, but none of them showed a single reason to why they deserve to remain in the starting XI in the long run.
On a serious note, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were badly missed, two individuals that have the pure ability and the quality to make the side simply tick in midfield and attack. When both players are not in the team, the side’s pressing off the ball is inconsistent and unorganised, whilst the side’s way of utilising possession is ineffective and really slow without the two main duo.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot to learn from his first league draw
Although the hosts dominated possession and created most of their best chances in the second half, they did not do enough in taking their shots and it led the visitors to grow in confidence as they took their limited chances on the counter-attack. By the 81st minute, Burnley seemingly had the three points secured and all they had to, was continue to defend in their own half for the final ten minutes of the game or so.
In the end, the comeback to come from 2-0 down to 2-2 will be seen as a huge positive turnaround, but it is still two points dropped and the chances of finishing in the top four slightly decreases. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to improve his in-game management as well as his ability to quickly react to any rising issues, whether it’s the side failing to take their chances, or the opposition posing more threat towards the final stages of the game and are coming really close to scoring.