Manchester United Struggle in Premier League Opener

Manchester United opened its 2020-21 Premier League campaign by hosting Crystal Palace. After ending its season losing in a third semifinal–this time in the Europa League–to Sevilla, 2-1, Manchester United looked to get off to a flying start with high hopes after finishing third in last year’s campaign.

As United’s season ended, so it began. Poor defensive efforts, lack of creativity in the offensive third, and poor finishing were the hallmark of their final two games in the Europa League. Coming into today’s season opener, United had gone 210 minutes without scoring a goal form the run of play. The two goals they did score, came via a penalty.

Crystal Palace opened up the scoring in the 7th minute as United’s defense allowed a Jeffrey Schlupp cross make its way across United’s goal front and find an unmarked Andros Townsed who slotted the cross by David De Gea with ease.

While controlling 74% of possession, United struggled to get any looks at goal inside Palace’s penalty box. United managed 5 shots on target in the half, but none of those shots troubled Vicente Guaita.

Crystal Palace obviously made a concerted effort to remain organized in defense and not allow United to break out on any type of counterattack, for every time United had the ball in the attacking third, there were 10 Palace players behind the ball. This forced United to move the ball back and forth around the box. Despite United’s dominate possession, Jordan Ayew nearly made it 2-0 Palace in the 45th minute. Luckily for United, De Gea was able to get a strong right hand to his shot to force it over the ball.

The second half was not much different for United. Plenty of possession, no clear chances, and more non-league-like defending. A Victor Lindelof handball in the 74th minute led to a Crystal Palace penalty. Ayew took the penalty, only to be saved by De Gea. However, VAR showed that De Gea was off his line to early, allowing the penalty to be retaken. This time, Wilfred Zaha took the penalty and pounded home Palace’s second goal.

Down 2-0, United finally scored a goal as Dutch new-boy, Donny van de Beek slotted home a loose ball in the box in the 80th minute. With United finally looking like they had a little energy, Palace was able to utilize another Lindelof error as Zaha pounded home their third.

Today’s results have clearly shown several flaws for Manchester United. With just a few weeks remaining in the transfer window, United needs help. The offense has been stagnant going back to their FA Cup semifinal match versus Chelsea. Those final 6 matches saw United score 8 goals…four of those goals came via a penalty kick. While United enjoy the talents of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, their scoring output has hit a wall. United clearly need to find a proven striker. Either pony up to purchase Sancho, or move onto to another target.

Defensively, there have been talks of bringing in a left-back. Rumors have surfaced that United have agreed to personal terms with Alex Telles of Porto. However, no deal has been made with Porto as of yet. However, United showed today that it needs help in the middle of the defense, as well.

Without any more action in the transfer window, United run the risk of getting left behind. Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Everton have all improved. At this point, United look as if they may finish no better than 8th…if not worse.

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