Manchester United are back to winning ways after a hard fought victory away at Crystal Palace.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the game at Selhurst Park…
It’s still in our hands
Leicester’s win over Sheffield United before this game raised the stakes for Manchester United. Only a win would do.
It was a really tough watch. On another day this result could have gone a very different way.
Up until Anthony Martial’s goal in the 78th minute, this match was too nerve-wracking for comfort.
What matters now is that we just need to win our final two games to clinch a Champions League spot, against West Ham and then Leicester.
If Leicester fail to beat Tottenham on Sunday, then a draw against the Foxes will be enough on the final day, if we beat West Ham on Wednesday.
Next up is the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, where we will be looking to continue our 19-match unbeaten run. We didn’t play brilliantly tonight, but our momentum is back.
Schedule catching up to the players
United’s impressive form was never going to be possible to maintain. The busy fixture schedule has left the players fatigued and lacking sharpness.
This was evident on Monday night against Southampton, and again here at Selhurst Park, where United started the game poorly.
Perhaps Solskjaer should take some blame in that, having decided not to rotate his side in the five league games leading up to this. It is also a reflection of a squad lacking in quality in certain areas beyond the first XI.
There is more work to do over the coming week, starting with the FA Cup semi-final this weekend.
United’s players need to find some energy reserves, physically and mentally, to pull through and get the results we need.
It was that kind of match tonight. United were sloppy especially early on and needed David de Gea to bail us out, and then get fortunate with a penalty appeal against Victor Lindelof.
We rode our luck and eventually Marcus Rashford pulled a goal out of nowhere to give us the lead. Again in the second half it was not pretty, and needed VAR to pull us out of a tough spot.
Ole not afraid to make bold calls
The selection of Timothy Fosu-Mensah was a major shock before the game at left-back. This was his first game for United since 2017.
It showed that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not afraid to make bold calls even at this late stage of the season.
This will keep everybody on their toes, provide inspiration to a few players who have not had much of a look in lately, and also raise the competitiveness in training.
Fosu-Mensah did not play terribly. He was not amazing either. It was about what you would expect from a player who has been out of action for 18 months due to injury. This was still a big step in the right direction for him.
Early call for Matic shows his importance
Nemanja Matic dropped out of United’s starting XI after five consecutive Premier League starts, and it was not surprising. At 31, United want to manage his minutes as sensibly as possible.
But it was telling that after an hour, United called him off the bench and not Fred, to replace Scott McTominay.
Matic is viewed as crucial to this team, and even with the FA Cup semi-final days away, this was game United had to get a result in, so it made sense to bring him on.
United had looked to be losing control of the game early in the second half. The call for Matic made sense, and showed his importance.
After he came on there was a clear improvement. Unlike on Monday night, the substitutions helped us, and we went on to score the second goal we needed.
Top scoring duo keep going
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford really can’t stop scoring. This was the second game in which both had netted, and it was good to see Rashford provide the assist for Martial’s strike.
Both players are now up to 22 goals each for the season. It is an impressive achievement in itself, before even considering that each of them missed two months of the season with injury.
When United have forwards in this type of form, the team is going to win a lot of games. We have won five and drawn two in the Premier League since the restart.
The duo will cause problems for Chelsea’s defence on Sunday, as they have both done already this season on more than one occasion.
- Pellistri and Diallo have versatility to both ultimately start together for United
- Donny van de Beek can prove he is ready for Manchester United superstardom this weekend
- Predicted Manchester United line-up v Liverpool
- Solskjaer praises development of full backs Shaw and Wan-Bissaka
- Solskjaer has reportedly rejected loan bids for van de Beek, Tuanzebe and Williams
- Cavani is finally bringing success to Manchester United’s number 7 shirt
- Loan for Facundo Pellistri can work if it fast-tracks his United success
- Fred’s late battling shows why he is so important to United
- Mark Lawrenson is expecting Manchester United to beat Liverpool