Manchester United suffered a blow in their title aspirations as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.
United took the lead in the first-half through a brilliant strike from Bruno Fernandes but a Michael Olise free-kick struck to perfection saw the Eagles grab a point at the death.
United dropped points from a leading position for the first time this season and Erik ten Hag will be bitterly disappointed with how his team performed in the second-half.
Lack of control in the second-half
Even worse, Casemiro saw a late yellow which means he will miss the crucial clash against Arsenal at the weekend.
The Red Devils have quite often failed to control proceedings in the second-half, something Ten Hag had said his team need to fix and they paid the ultimate price.
Bruno Fernandes on #mufc's penalty shout: "Scott [McTominay] got onto the ball, the guy from Palace tried to tackle him but decisions can go either way. We can't be worried about now, it's gone." [via @ShamoonHafez]
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) January 18, 2023
The entire second period saw United try and hit Palace on the counter as they dropped deeper and deeper in a bid to hold on to their slender advantage.
And the squad depth once again proved to be a major hindrance as the only option at the manager’s disposal was bringing on Scott McTominay in place of debutant Wout Weghorst.
The Dutch striker was a physical presence in the first-half and his ability to play with his back to goal and hold up the ball helped the Reds keep control of possession.
No attacking options meant McTominay replaced Weghorst
But as soon as he was withdrawn, things started falling apart. In-form Marcus Rashford is not as adept playing up front on his own as a target man.
And McTominay neither provided impetus up front or protected the back-line. Anthony Martial‘s injury-enforced absence and the lack of attacking options ended up hurting the Old Trafford side.
It is unlikely that United will remain in the title race due to their poor squad depth and it will be better for the team to focus on the games ahead instead of thinking too far ahead.
It will be a mountain to climb for United against the league leaders without their midfield general with Ten Hag again having to go back to the drawing board to figure out a new plan.
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