Manchester United traveled to Stoke City in hopes of a fourth straight win but the matches ended 2-2 and contributing writer, Nathan Quao, picks out three pointers from the match.
Not the best day for defence
The previous three matches had gone very well. Clean sheets and displays that kept the opposition at bay and very unhappy.
But it seems Mark Hughes and his men had figured out cracks which were invisible to the rest of us.
First, the long ball leading to Tchoupo-Moting caught Matteo Darmian sleeping and the signs were there leading up to the goal.
Then, Eric Bailly failed to go with the Cameroonian forward for his goal.
As if that was not enough, Phil Jones lost his bearings and the former Schalke man found his second of the day.
The rear guard looked shaky all game and the manager needs to them to snap out of the ‘slumber’ because this month will test the team’s readiness for the big time.
The seven games to be played in the next 22 days will be very important and it will define the rest of the season and that means that the protectors at the rear guard will need to be at their best.
Mourinho’s poor run at Stoke City continues
I am sure in the back of Jose Mourinho’s mind, he must have had the feeling that the tie would be tough. When he was at Chelsea, they fell on their faces at Stoke. On one occasion, it was Oussama Assaidi and at another time, former Potter Marko Arnautovic was the one driving the dagger in.
Today, it was Eric Maxim Tchoupo-Moting who kept United in check and to be honest, Stoke played well and they showed their very dangerous side.
Mourinho was seen applauding just before the end of the game and maybe it was an admission that the Red Devils had been given their toughest game so far.
Perhaps, it was the international break and the accompanying loss of rhythm but it was quite evident that United were not at their best and Stoke City were very ready to have a say in the result.
Another match, another test
The first three matches of the season gave United several tests. The home tie at West Ham tested the team’s ability to handle the pressure of starting well and they passed it.
The match at Swansea asked questions of the team’s patience and killer instinct. They scored good marks in Wales.
The tie at home to Leicester had a go at the ability to keep going at it even when the door seemed shut.
Today at Stoke, Mourinho got his wish of his team conceding first and the players responded. Yes, they gave a goal away but they proved that they could pick up the pieces and put themselves into a position of power.
It did not end too well today but on another day, the victory will be possible and the reward will be huge. Three points and a step forward.
On to the next one but top marks to David De Gea for the save to deny Jese Rodriguez. Wonderful stuff from the goalie. Long may that continue.