The ghosts of the previous season’s lackadaisical performance seemed to have caught up with the Red Devils once again when they crashed to a shocking 1-2 defeat to Crystal Palace at home in Old Trafford. It was a match in which the home team dominated but were not able to find the right answers in front of the goal mouth. Despite the 70 per cent possession they enjoyed, the hosts were able to manage just 3 shots on target (one of which was their late goal). The £130 million duo of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka looked nowhere near the form they showed in the 4-0 win over Chelsea a fortnight ago. Neither of defenders could back up for Victor Lindelof when he was dispossessed by Jeffrey Schlupp whose flick-on to Jordan Ayew cleared the way for the latter to score the visitor’s first goal in the 32nd minute. United’s pressing seemed to have paid off when Anthony Martial was brought down in the box in the second half and a penalty awarded. Unfortunately for United, Rashford’s spot-kick hit the post and for a second time in a week, a missed spot kick cost the Red Devils a match. Both Pogba’s botched chance against the Wolves and Rashford’s at Old Trafford on Saturday drew unwanted racist slurs from a nasty minority but whether that had any bearing on the performance of the Red Devils against an un-fancied Palace side is a matter of conjecture. For United, the only redeeming performance came from new signing David James whose 89th minute curler into the net brought parity to the proceedings. But United’s joy was short-lived as Palace capitalized on a Pogba error when the Frenchman ceded possession to Patrick van Aanholt who simply grabbed at the opportunity to score during injury-time, beating David de Gea from close range and putting his side on the road to a memorable Old Trafford win.
Palace earned their first win over United in the Premier League from their 21 meetings in the competition and their first in the League since May 1991 when they had beaten the Red Devils 3-0 in a home win at Selhurst Park. The Eagles have a good record away from home though, winning 60 per cents of the fixtures on the road, more than other bottom-half sides of the past few seasons.
Notwithstanding the dismal results of the Saturday clash, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær was unhappy with a number of refereeing decisions supposedly going against the home side. Anthony Martial was upended by Gary Cahill in the 34th minute outside the area with Palace at 1-0, but referee Paul Tierney chose to flash the yellow card rather than the red. Early in the second-half, Martial went down under a challenge from Martin Kelly inside the area but did not earn a penalty. VAR (Video-Assisted-Referee) checked a separate Kelly incident with Marcus Rashford and determined it was not a spot-kick.
A happy Palace coach Roy Hodgson was heard saying: “If you judge games on possession or corners then people would say we did not deserve it but we are Crystal Palace and looking at our team and our performance, of course we deserved to win.”