United 1-2 Palace: Key Talking Points

Crystal Palace caused quite the surprise today, defeating United for the first time in the Premier League. The limitations of Solskjaer’s team were obvious as United toiled to create opportunities against a compact, defensive unit. While the game was entertaining, the main talking point was the refereeing. The VAR missed a blatant red card on one occasion and a penalty on another, both at the detriment of Anthony Martial.

See also: Impressive Debuts for Maguire, Bissaka, James

Let me start by saying that Palace did well to profit from United’s mistakes and lack of creativity today. Hodgson set his side up to defend deep and produce key tactical fouls to stop United’s quick players. This strategy in itself is fair as long as the referees are on top of the game, which unfortunately for United was not the case today.

On three occasions, the referee responsible for VAR failed to do his job miserably.

In the 40th minute, Anthony Martial, United’s number nine, did well to guide the ball past Gary Cahill with an amazing first touch and was about to be one-on-one with Guaita when the ex-Chelsea defender fouled him. Blocking a goal scoring opportunity with a foul is a red card offense. Referee Paul Tierney showed a yellow card and VAR was quiet.

Almost the exact same scenario happened in the 55th minute, this time with Kelly, and the foul was in the penalty area. The Palace defender manhandles Martial causing him to fall and scoff his shot. VAR was again quiet.

Martial wants a penalty! A brilliant turn inside the area, Kelly holds him, hauls him down and how the hell is that not a foul?! That’s mental. No word on whether VAR are looking at it. – The Telegraph

You would think these two blatant refereeing errors were enough for one game but no, Tierney managed to outdo his own mediocrity when he booked Dan James for diving in the 75th minute, when the Welsh winger was clearly fouled. This is the second game where James has wrongly taken a yellow for diving when the video replay showed it was a clear foul on him.

It’s understandable an alleged yellow card offense was not reviewed and United can always request an unfair yellow be rescinded but the referee has no excuse for not reviewing and making the right call for the fouls which denied Martial two goal scoring opportunities. Given the Frenchman’s impressive stats, if he is not fouled, he would surely have scored them.

This is the third game week with VAR controversy. Let’s hope the EPL refs get it right soon because this is unfairly affecting results.

As for United, even with the erratic refereeing, they should have won this game. A club of their stature cannot rely on Jesse Lingard to be the main creative threat. The lack of top class options from the bench does help their cause either.

United need a world class play maker, another solid central midfield option, a back up striker who can play a physical game and a left-back to compete with Luke Shaw. Of course, you cannot buy 6-7 top players in one transfer window. United fans will hope they can get one player in January and strengthen their core again in the summer.

The rebuild is well on. Solskjaer now needs to find a way for his team to at least make it into the top four so he can continue signing the top players they lack.

 

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