Friday 15 December 2017

Shaw's importance growing and lack of cutting edge – Five things we learned from United draw

Manchester United huffed and puffed in Moscow
Manchester United huffed and puffed in Moscow

Charlie Eccleshare

Manchester United left Moscow with a point after a 1-1 draw with CSKA and her is what we learned from the Champions League Group B clash

United still look short of cutting edge

As has been the case throughout much of Louis van Gaal’s reign, this was a performance full of neat and tidy passing, but little by way of clear-cut chances.

United enjoyed 72pc of possession in Moscow, but had fewer shots on target than their opponents, and rarely looked threatening.

Martial has the knack of scoring important goals

Anthony Martial didn’t have his most influential match, but he popped up when it mattered.

His 65th-minute header was superbly taken, and ended a four-game goalscoring drought following decisive strikes against Liverpool and Southampton. With United’s other attackers unable to produce consistently, Van Gaal needs Martial to deliver.

Memphis remains out of favour

For the second consecutive match, Memphis Depay was on the bench, and when Van Gaal made a half-time change, it was Marouane Fellaini who got the nod. It wasn’t until the 80th minute that Depay came on, and until he wins his place back there will be fears that he could be another Angel di Maria.

Luke Shaw gets better with every game he misses

United continue to keenly feel the absence of the injured left-back. On this occasion it was Marcos Rojo who took his place, and the Argentine looked so vulnerable to the forward bursts of Mario Fernandes and Zoran Tosic that he was taken off for Daley Blind after 63 minutes.

Blind, Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian have looked similarly unconvincing in Shaw’s position, and the former Southampton defender's return can’t come soon enough.

Referees are capable of showing common sense

Carlos Velasco Carballo’s decision to allow Mario Fernandes to get a shot away after Martial’s handball but then give a penalty once David de Gea saved the effort was spot on. Fellow referees should follow suit - otherwise players feel they could lose out by playing on and not stopping to appeal.

It's possible the referee was helped by the official behind the goal, though his motionlessness means we'll never know.


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