Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United welcomed Newcastle United to Old Trafford for their English Premier League gameweek 9 clash on Sunday afternoon (October 16). The Red Devils looked sluggish over the course of the match and ended up settling for a hapless goalless draw with the Magpies.
Sunday’s stalemate has left Manchester United in fifth place in the Premier League standings with 16 points from nine matches. They are currently 11 points behind league leaders Arsenal (game in hand) and three behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
The Red Devils enjoyed a bustling start to the game, with them dispatching their first shot, via Fred, inside the opening five minutes. Unfortunately, for the hosts, the Brazilian’s effort was well wide of the mark.
After seeing off United’s early enthusiasm, Newcastle United courageously put their bodies forward. In the 10th minute, Callum Wilson drew a challenge from Raphael Varane inside the United box. The visitors appealed strongly for a penalty, but the referee remained unmoved.
In the 24th minute, Kieran Trippier found Joelinton inside the box with a curling cross. The Brazilian first rattled the bar and then hit the post with back-to-back headers before seeing the ball go out of play. The resulting corner was dealt with easily by Manchester United’s defenders.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a couple of opportunities in the first half but was caught offside on both occasions. He found the back of the net three minutes into the second half, but the goal was unsurprisingly chalked off for offside. In the 52nd minute, Bruno Fernandes squared the ball off to Ronaldo in an encouraging area. The situation was read promptly by Trippier, who knocked Ronaldo off balance and kept him from pulling the trigger.
A few minutes later, Jadon Sancho dashed into Newcastle United’s penalty area and faced a harsh challenge from Sean Longstaff. VAR checked for a possible penalty but found the challenge to be fair. A couple of minutes before the full-time whistle, Fred had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. However, with the goal gaping in front of him, the Brazilian ended up dragging his effort wide of the mark.
It was an underwhelming performance by Manchester United, with them ending the night with only two shots on target. Here are five players who failed to live up to the mark against Eddie Howe’s team on Sunday:
#5 Luke Shaw
Left-back Luke Shaw endured a quiet encounter on Sunday afternoon. While he was decent at the back, his attacking play left a lot to be desired. He rarely dashed upfield, often losing possession, and his delivery was nowhere as threatening as United needed it to be.
Against the Magpies, Shaw lost five of eight duels, ceded possession 18 times, misplaced 12 of 58 passes, and failed in his only dribble attempt.
Manchester United’s marquee forward Antony was not at his best on Sunday. His movements were often easily tracked by Daniel Burn, his distribution was poor, and his link-up play was also far from satisfactory.
Antony misplaced all six of his crosses, lost possession 16 times, failed on two of his three dribble attempts, and both his attempted long balls were off target. It was one of his least influential performances since his transfer from Ajax.
#3 Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes once again cut a frustrating figure at the top of the Red Devils’ midfield. The Portugal international’s movements were predictable as he failed to catch the opposition out with his distribution and often looked out of ideas in the final third. To top it off, he committed a clumsy tackle on Bruno Guimaraes in the 65th minute, picking up a booking.
On Sunday, Fernandes misplaced four of his five attempted crosses, could not lodge a single shot on target, and lost possession 15 times.
One of the most experienced midfielders on the team, Fred lacked composure, agility, and intelligence against Newcastle United on Sunday. He squandered two very decent opportunities to score, first in the third minute, then again in the 88th minute. He also lost possession cheaply, was weak in the duels, and committed a couple of fouls.
The Brazil international lost nine of 12 duels, ceded possession 16 times, and failed to lodge any shots on target (4 attempts). Given how poorly he performed, he was lucky to be able to finish the game.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo
A week after scoring his 700th club career goal (2-1 win over Everton), Cristiano Ronaldo produced a horrendous performance in the red jersey. He was hesitant to take defenders on, often dropped too deep, and was caught offside way too often, seeing a goal disallowed.
The Portuguese superstar made only 11 accurate passes (57.9% accuracy), had just one shot (off target), and lost the only aerial duel he contested for. The forward was also booked for trying to steal Newcastle’s free kick and finding the back of the net in the 49th minute.