Given a choice between victory over West Ham in the Premier League or three days later against the same opponents in the EFL Cup quarterfinals, Manchester United fans might prefer the latter. Their chances of finishing in the top four don’t look great but another trophy to add to last season’s FA Cup would be welcomed.
The 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon was the latest game at Old Trafford that United utterly dominated but failed to win. West Ham took an early lead after Dimitri Payet threw himself down to win a free kick that he then delivered for Diafra Sakho to head in. United drew level when Paul Pogba set up Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the hosts failed to score the winner their performance deserved.
Ibrahimovic got on the scoresheet again, making it three goals in his last two league games. The team needs more goals overall but at least his barren patch has ended. Meanwhile, Phil Jones put in another solid performance at the back and is looking more and more like the player who Sir Alex Ferguson rated so highly.
United create enough chances to win games comfortably yet they cannot put enough of them away. This is hugely concerning to fans because it’s hard to see what can be done to change it.
Jose Mourinho was criticised for leaving Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the bench but, while the Armenian’s performance wasn’t dreadful when he came on, too often he was outmuscled and lost possession. He helped in some attacks but, considering he had half an hour on the pitch, didn’t do an awful lot.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Mourinho getting sent off again was not ideal, although not many managers are dismissed just for kicking a bottle of water. He probably picked the right starting XI but let himself down with the decisions to take off Juan Mata so early and to send on Marouane Fellaini in search of a winner.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 7 — Nothing he could do about the West Ham goal and he made a great stop late on to deny Ashley Fletcher.
DF Antonio Valencia, 8 — Another top performance from the right-back, who has played so well this season. His contribution to United’s attack was huge; time and again he got past Aaron Creswell and put some crosses in to the box.
DF Phil Jones, 7 — Made important interceptions and used his strength well to keep West Ham out.
DF Marcos Rojo, 6 — He largely did fine, although there was the odd unconvincing clearance. DF Matteo Darmian, 6 — Replaced Luke Shaw for this game and looked OK but didn’t do enough going forward.
MF Ander Herrera, 7 — He helped protect United’s back four, put in some good tackles and helped United dominate possession.
MF Paul Pogba, 7 — Played the brilliant ball forward to claim an assist for United’s equaliser and often won the ball back to start attacks. He forced a good save from Darren Randolph with an attempt from outside the box.
MF Marcus Rashford, 4 — Concentration was lacking from the youngster. He had a brilliant opportunity to give United the lead when one on one with Randolph but fluffed the chance. Replaced with 25 minutes to play.
MF Juan Mata, 6 — Had United’s first shot on target and was involved but didn’t make the same impact as in recent games. Unlucky to be taken off, though, with so much time left to play.
MF Jesse Lingard, 6 — Made a couple of good runs and tracked down many a lost cause. Had an attempt on goal from outside the box but it was straight at the goalkeeper.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 7 — Gave United the equaliser with a great header, having been culpable on the West Ham strike. He could have won the game and also created several good opportunities for his teammates to score.
MF Wayne Rooney, 5 — Had a tame effort minutes after coming on, with which he should have done better.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 5 — Showed some nice moments and hit the post but, aside from that, struggled to have an impact.
MF Marouane Fellaini, NR — Conceded a stupid free kick on the edge of his own penalty area; he contributes nothing positive or useful.
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