The longer the game went on, the more and more you could see it unfolding. I was thinking about the Casemiro yellow card that would inevitably come. It definitely did. What was unexpected was the fact that Palace would score late on from a delicious free kick courtesy of Michael Olise to level the game as Bruno Fernandes would put United ahead on the stroke of half time. The yellow card and then the last minute goal will be a real sucker punch going ahead into the big game against Arsenal away at the Emirates.

Rest, Press, Less Stress

If there was one thing that Man Utd fans have struggled to watch in their side for as long as they could remember, is them being a stubborn defence team to play against. At times, the goal conceded column has flattered the actual defensive play we have put up. Mostly that has been because of De Gea pulling out worldly saves to keep it respectable. 2017/18 was one of them, the best after Ferguson’s departure. Last season was one of those seasons where De Gea actually played well but United were that astoundingly poor that even he wasn’t able to cover for a United team that defended without any principle.

Step by step, Ten Hag has looked to instil the some sort of defensive principles within the team. Initially, the focus was on the high press to keep the opponent away from the backline but it was bypassed by longer balls so the Dutchman reverted to building in a more orthodox way by ensuring the team were difficult to break down. From there, the team got better and outside of the drubbing against our city rivals in the away fixture and Villa away just before the World Cup break, the team have managed to keep it tight.

Of course the introduction of Casemiro has been a massive help in making sure that we are a harder team to play through. In all aspects of defending, the Brazilian is a master of his art. In the organised defensive phase, he covers the gaps well enough that it either deters the opponent from playing the pass and if they do, he will more than likely intercept it. In transitional defensive phase, he is amazing at both covering for his CBs, whether it be screening them or filling in if they are caught out of position. That was evident on the break with Eze where he was able to stop a vital counter with the Man Utd defence severely misshapen. He did it again, illegally to Zaha, the next time which means that he will miss the next game against the league leaders. But it is not just the former Real Madrid man that has helped. The security of Varane and Martinez cannot be understated, the centre back partnership with the joint third best point average so far this season (2.1). It is always dogged and the aggression transmits itself up the pitch. It took a wonder goal to get past De Gea tonight and it was unfair on the Spaniard as he had two great saves, the first one in particular, that should have ensured the three points for the Red Devils

Silent Night After Christmas

Even though there is less stress, the stress is still not completely eliminated. United tonight were incredibly poor on the ball and continuing to concede the ball at this level of football is just not sustainable to producing a good result. Casemiro, Bruno, Antony and Rashford were all particularly culpable in not being able to stem the flow of poor and sloppy play.

If the defence was up to their usual best, the attack definitely had an off night. Rashford, outside of the lovely pass he played into Eriksen for the goal, was unbelievably quiet. As the game went on, he got poorer and poorer even. Bruno, despite the composure he showed for the goal, was back to his usual self outside of that where he was giving the ball away with sloppy moments of play.

Antony, since the World Cup break ended, has been especially poor in the work he has produced. Of course, his one footedness and his lack of burst to take him past his full back means that he has his limitations but what is the most grating is the fact that his supposed strengths are nowhere near good enough to cover up this weaknesses. His touch was sloppy and he seemed more focused on getting highlight reels with his ball rolls than actually trying to get the ball forward to score goals. Weghorst, on his first start, had a quiet game but gave a decent account of himself with decent touches. United have been so starved of any sort of competent centre forward this season that the run he made towards goal that opened up the space for Bruno Fernandes on the goal was being praised by the fans.