Manchester United faced Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in the space of a few days after the team’s triumph on Tuesday in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Erik ten Hag made four changes from the side that started in the 3-0 win.
Raphael Varane came in for Harry Maguire. In midfield, Bruno Fernandes started ahead of Hannibal Mejbri.
Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund lined up in attack in place of Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Martial respectively.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace.
United struggling to create enough clear-cut goalscoring opportunities
A theme of the game vs. Roy Hodgson’s men is just how much United struggled to create sufficient clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
In the opening 45 minutes, the Red Devils had a lot of possession but did not do much with it.
Palace took the lead courtesy of Joachim Andersen who fired a powerful shot into the roof of the United net, giving Andre Onana no chance whatsoever.
The goal threatened to undo United’s good work prior to the ball going in, but the players pretty much carried on in the same fashion – keeping the ball and passing it around while not really creating anything substantial.
The only memorable chance in the first half fell to Hojlund, who got on the end of an over-the-top ball from Rashford, but the Dane could not get sufficient power on it.
Beyond that, the forwards had to primarily do with half chances that more often than not would need moments of individual brilliance.
It’s surprising that United struggled so much in attack considering they have one of the league’s best creators in the form of Fernandes.
The Portuguese midfielder did not have the kind of impact he usually has on matches.
Mason Mount is another who can create chances at a relatively high level but much like Fernandes, the England international was not as effective, although he was relentless in his pressing and off-the-ball responsibilities.
United’s concerns have in recent times revolved around their failure to finish chances but it’s an even bigger worry if they can’t create enough opportunities to finish off their opponents.
United wingers offered very little
United’s widemen simply did not do enough against the Eagles.
Facundo Pellistri seemed to struggle physically in duels and 50/50 challenges with rival players.
In truth, the Uruguayan never really got into the game and was not able to show his capabilities. It was hardly a surprise that he was the first player to come off at the hour mark for Garnacho.
Pellistri’s lacklustre display was made even more glaring by Garnacho’s more spirited performance.
The Argentine youngster had a shot on target within seconds of coming on. He also gave Ward more to think about.
Most of United’s attacks went down Rashford’s flank, but the 25-year-old struggled to penetrate Palace’s extremely compact defence.
At times, Rashford embarked on marauding runs that amounted to nothing. He simply ran into brick walls and handed possession back to Palace.
At times, he was careless on the ball.
Manchester Evening News reporter Samuel Luckhurst indicated that there were some audible groans from the crowd due to Rashford’s wastefulness.
Mejbri and Garnacho first two to warm up. #mufc really not at it in the final third, despite some good approach play by Casemiro and Mount. Some fans have audibly groaned at Rashford's wastefulness and Pellistri hasn't got into the game so far.
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) September 30, 2023
When shifted to the right after Garnacho’s introduction, his influence on the game faded a little bit. Many will agree that the right-wing is hardly Rashford’s preferred position.
United need more from their wingers if they are to become the finished articled under Ten Hag.
United’s momentum halted
After a run of consecutive defeats against Arsenal, Brighton and Bayern Munich, the 20-time English champions seemed to have turned a corner by clinching three points vs. Burnley at Turf Moor before beating Palace in the Carabao Cup.
However, any momentum gained has now been halted by the defeat at the hands of the South London outfit.
United have now lost four of their seven Premier League games this term – the worst start for the club since the 1989 campaign.
The pressure is now back on Ten Hag and his players.
It doesn’t take much for the pitchforks to come out and United urgently need to consistently register wins on the board.
Next up is Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday.