Manchester United were held to a 1-1- draw against Southampton at the St Mary’s stadium.
It was a disappointing afternoon for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side as they yet again managed to drop crucial points at the start of the season.
Carl Anka’s recent article for The Athletic gives insight into the positives and negatives of yesterday’s match.
On a positive note, Man United have now extended their unbeaten run away from home to 27 games, equalling Arsenal’s invincibles in 2004.
Another notable trait in yesterday’s game was United’s threat from attacking set-pieces.
Anka states: “Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are beginning to vary their attacking set-piece routines, weaning themselves off crosses directed to Maguire and trying to tee up Paul Pogba on the back post.”
New set-piece coach Eric Ramsay has put a lot of work into improving this area of the team.
Despite not having his best overall game, Mason Greenwood netted the equaliser and showed his goalscoring prowess.
“Mason Greenwood is evolving into one of the better forwards in the league, capable of both sensational and ugly finishes,” claims Anka.
The 19 year old is now the third-highest teenage scorer for Man United behind Norman Whiteside and George Best.
However, Anka insists that Solskjaer’s side needs reinforcements in midfield.
He states: “United’s squad has enough quality to expect a top-four place, but there is a difference between being a title contender and a title favourite.”
“United lacked a player in their pivot with either the requisite energy to go toe-to-toe with Southampton’s central midfielders.
“Fred made three tackles and won possession 13 times, but he lost it on 16 occasions too, nor did they have a player with the match-reading intelligence to pass around that pressure from deep.
“Matic managed only 75 per cent passing accuracy on Sunday, Fred finishing with 77.5 per cent.”
The Reds failed to grab the winner and were once again frustrated by the opposition low-block.
Southampton offered excellent resistance and did not allow United to get hold of the midfield.
The article perfectly summarises Southampton’s approach to tackling United’s style of play.
“At their best, Solskjaer’s United are knockout artists, leaving opponents in a heap after dazzling quick combos.
“The issue on Sunday was Hasenhuttl’s Southampton at their peak are submission specialists, working to frustrate teams by refusing to allow their favourite moves, before applying their own special manoeuvres.”
Anka believes that for United to challenge for titles, Solskjaer must address the midfield situation.
“If he wants to improve on last season, the United manager will have to find something more from his midfield, especially against more dogged opponents.”
With eight days left till the end of the transfer window, the Red Devils must push for a midfield signing.