Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United: Three things that we learnt
Manchester United made it back-to-back wins in the Premier League and it was crucial that they did after the majority of their rivals won this week. They are still six points off of the top four, but they have managed to make up three points on Arsenal. Although it required a late winner from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it was a deserved victory for United and they will now be hoping to go on a good run to take into 2017. The referee made some questionable decisions, but both teams suffered from them. Here are three things we learnt on Wednesday:
Paul Pogba is getting better and better
Just minutes into the game, the Frenchman played a beautiful lobbed through ball to Wayne Rooney and he continued to get better from there. It was always going to be difficult for the midfielder this season as he arrived in England with a huge price tag and wasn’t used in his best position to begin with. However, he has been improving every week and is now influencing matches on a consistent basis. He was impressive against Tottenham, but he was the match-winner against Crystal Palace and deserves all the praise that is coming his way.
He scored the first goal after an Ibrahimovic knock-down provided him with the simple task of diverting the ball past Wayne Hennessey. It was clever positioning from the midfielder and he got his rewards. Then in the second half, he played a huge part in the winning goal. His power allowed him to turn Yohan Cabaye before surging forwards and playing a perfectly weighted through ball to Ibrahimovic who put the ball into the net. It was an excellent piece of play from Pogba and he deserved his man-of-the-match award. He will now be hoping to perform like this consistently and emerge as one of the best in the league.
Pardew is running out of time at Palace
The English manager has a habit of staying in a job long enough to turn it around, but he is running short on time at Selhurst Park as the fans are beginning to call for his head. They have won only four matches this season and their record for the calendar year makes for even worse reading. He is a manager that has struggled to arrest a slide during his career and he looks a man short of ideas at the moment. Their victory over Southampton feels like a long time ago and the pressure continues to mount with every bad result.
Although a loss against Manchester United doesn’t look bad on paper, Pardew made a stupid mistake as he opted to make an attacking change rather than settle for the point at 1-1. He sent on Fraizer Campbell in place of James McArthur and that was an overly bold move for a team that is struggling for form. They have matches against Chelsea and Arsenal on the horizon and Pardew desperately needs to pull a shock result out of somewhere. If they start the new year in the bottom three, Palace may choose to make a managerial change and they would have every reason to. The next few weeks are key for Pardew’s career as it is difficult to see him getting another Premier League job if he fails at Selhurst Park.
Rooney has a role to play this season
The club captain has been on the sidelines of late and Manchester United have been playing well in his absence. However, he was given an opportunity on Wednesday and played well. The Englishman is attempting to go level with Sir Bobby Charlton as Manchester United’s all-time leading scorer. He came close on a couple of occasions at Selhurst Park and looked sharper then he was earlier in the season. Rooney worked tirelessly for his team and played a major part in a dominant Manchester United performance.
He is at the stage of his career that he needs to be managed wisely and Jose Mourinho is doing that. It is clear that he is no longer the player that he was and he isn’t going to score 20+ goals a season. That said, he is still a player with a lot of experience and he remains somebody that can influence matches at the highest level. He has one of the best shots in the Premier League and he will score goals, but he needs to be utilised in a role that plays to his strengths. He was at Selhurst Park and Manchester United benefited from that.
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