Manchester United was held a to 3-3 draw against Everton in a back and forth game that went down to the final whistle. We looked seemingly in control at half time as we were 2-0 up at half time thanks to goals from Edinson Cavani and a beautiful strike from Bruno Fernandes. However, in the second half, our defensive frailties reared their ugly head once again. We conceded two goals within three minutes to let Everton back in. Scott McTominay did restore our lead but a foul by Axel Tuanzebe led to a free kick outside of the box from which Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored their equaliser right at the death.
Here we looked at five things we learned from the game.
1. Defensive frailties costing us again
We had looked good going forward as we created a number of chances that could have put the game against Everton to bed. We seemed to be cruising at half time at 2-0 up. However, the levels dropped down and we began to defend terribly. For Everton’s first goal, the blame can be given to De Gea for this one as he palmed Calvert-Lewin cross into the path of Abdoulaye Doucoure to score.
However, as we have seen all season our defence has been frail in those key moments. This was probably a game where we could have Eric Bailly alongside Harry Maguire if he not been out injured. Bailly has the ability to track attackers and the majority of the time stop them from getting their shots or crosses into the six-yard box.
After conceding the first goal, this in-turn cause panic in the defence and the goalkeeper. United conceded again from another Everton attack as James Rodriguez rifled in a shot to make it 2-2.
Instead of seeing out the game when we were 3-2 up thanks to a Scott McTominay goal, defender Axel Tuanzebe made a naive foul that gave away a free kick in our own half of the 93rd minute. Set pieces cost us once again as Harry Maguire played everyone onside as we did not clear the ball with Calvert-Lewin stabbing home their equaliser. Both our defending and the goalkeeper were culpable for this mistake.
We knew we had weakness in our defence but we did not need reminding so soon after the shock 2-1 defeat against Sheffield United last week. As Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles“.
2. Bruno’s stunning strike was in vain
Bruno Fernandes is entering his second year at Manchester United and he is carrying on as he did in his first. His goal just before half time, where he had a faked to put a cross in before he hit a curling dipping strike from outside the box into the back of the net.
Social media was awash in awe of the goal. It was being called Cantona-esque. Only top players with the technique would have the ability to do that. It was Bruno’s first goal from open play in 2021 and it was certainly worth waiting for.
3. Cavani is becoming the main forward
Edinson Cavani had been an injury doubt for this game after picking a knock against Southampton. His starting place was not assured with Anthony Martial bagging a brace on Tuesday night. However, after his recent performances and the chances taken, United are now putting him in regardless.
His movement on and off the ball is second to none. He uses his football intelligence to find spaces where he can pick up passes. Cavani can finish from every angle making him a player that can play in either the number 9 role or as a target man. He stepped up by scoring the opening goal thanks to a beautiful cross from Marcus Rashford.
Cavani has scored in his last three games against Everton. He is becoming the main forward at United. Anthony Martial will have to up his game if he is to dislodge the Uruguayan from the side.
4. Pogba’s Injury A Blow
Paul Pogba was starting to exert some control in the midfield as the first half went on. However, he had to be subbed off due to what looks like a thigh injury with Fred replacing him. It is impossible to predict how long this injury will keep him out. If Pogba does miss a good few games, it will be the first major injury to the United midfield this season.
When looking back at last season, Pogba had missed two-thirds of it. So United had to get use to playing without the Frenchman in the side. This injury may present the opportunity for Donny Van De Beek who will be chomping a bit to get more game time. He has only had two league starts this season.
5. Chance to put pressure on City wasted
If United had claimed all three points against Everton, we would have been leveled on points with Manchester City, who are facing Liverpool on Sunday. Instead, we dropped two points and this given the advantage to City to extend their lead. This bad result also proves pivotal as the teams around like Leicester City and Liverpool now have the opportunity to catch up to us. It is also shown that talk of a title challenge this season might be looking a lot less realistic.