Football Features

“He’s lost his mojo” Winners and Losers as Crystal Palace stun Man Utd at Old Trafford

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 17:19, 24 August 2019

In a stunning afternoon of football, Crystal Palace beat Manchester United 1-2 at Old Trafford.

It was Palace’s first win against United since 1991 and a magnificent effort from The Eagles. Who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Patrick van Aanholt

Sure, Jordan Ayew scored his first goal in the Premier League since the second day of 2019, and sure it was a delicious finish that went to De Gea’s near-post and left the Spaniard with no hope whatsoever, but that happened in the first half. I mean it was still good, great even, but United pulled that back in the 89th minute through Daniel James.

But then, but then… oh man. Deep in stoppage time, Palace raid forward in attack. Wilf Zaha penetrates the box and tries to fly by Aaron Wan-Bissaka but United’s young tackle machine deads him clean and the ball rolls away… straight to Patrick van Aanholt. You’d think there would be someone picking the Dutchman up, helping Wan-Bissaka out, but nope.

So Van Aanholt has the ball free and clear with a look at De Gea and he absolutely rockets the ball low and hard at the Spaniard’s near-post and it sneaks in (more on that later) to give Crystal Palace a lead at Old Trafford. In fact it gives Crystal Palace a win at Old Trafford. A huge, colossal, historic win. Palace’s first over United in 1991. All because Patrick van Aanholt (who defended really well, for what its worth) drove forward and shot with true confidence.

Loser: Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard has had a weird career. Here’s a player who has scored a stunner to win an FA Cup final, who has been one of England’s best players in a brilliant World Cup campaign, who has destroyed Arsenal at the Emirates and become a fan favourite with his celebrations.

But… he’s not very good. At least, his skills lie in very specific areas. He’s a good goalscorer, a lively runner off the ball and a sensational defender when it comes to engaging in a high press. He is in many ways the modern equivalent of Park Ji-Sung, the Korean international who United used to fantastic effect in big games under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Park didn’t play regularly, however, because his skill-set made him good in big games. In open games where there would be space on the break and/or an opponent to press and harry. A game like Crystal Palace at home would not be a good showcase for Park, and it wasn’t for Jesse Lingard. The Englishman looked hopeless against the rugged and rigid low block of Palace, because their style of play negated all of his strengths. It only served to highlight just how big of a need United had for a no. 10 in the summer; someone who can unlock these kinds of packed defences with vision and technique, because Jesse Lingard sure as hell won’t be that guy.

Winner: Roy Hodgson

Opening day, Crystal Palace draw 0-0 with Everton. They look miserable. Second week, Crystal Palace lose 1-0 to Sheffield United and somehow look even worse. Has the Roy Hodgson mojo finally worn off? The Eagles look like they couldn’t even break into a sprint let alone take flight and soar like their fans want them to.

And yet, third week they came up to Old Trafford and pulled off a phenomenal victory. Alright they had a few VAR calls go their way and Marcus Rashford wrapped a game-changing penalty off the post having wrong-footed Vicente Guaita. But overall you can’t really argue that Palace didn’t deserve at least something from the game given how well they restricted The Red Devils. And then when they had to take their chances they did so emphatically and picked up a historic win. Roy’s boys are up and running!

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Loser: Luke Shaw

Injuries are never nice. It’s really unpleasant watching someone get hurt, especially if they are frequently out of action. Luke Shaw has suffered terribly with injuries and today was no different. About halfway through the first half he went on a driving sprint but then pulled up at the end holding his hamstring.

The thing is, because of all the injuries he hasn’t even developed much as a footballer. He’s good, but he was good as an 18-year-old with Southampton too back in 2013/14. He’s not improved since then and today even before he had to go off injured it looked another meandering nothing performance from him. He just doesn’t offer enough in attack beyond enthusiasm and his defending is poor.

In short, he’s not good enough. United had other priorities this summer so he managed to avoid being replaced but the fact that United looked better as an attacking unit with 74-year-old winger Ashley Young playing left-back than they did with Shaw is ludicrous.

Winner: Chelsea

Arsenal were always likely to finish ahead of Manchester United this season given their excellent transfer business late on to address key weaknesses, something United failed to do, but Chelsea? The Blues couldn’t sign anyone this summer, lost their best player and had a rookie coach who in his only season so far had failed to substantially improve Derby County.

Then on the opening day of the season, United thrashed Chelsea 4-0. It was a brutal scoreline which perhaps didn’t reflect the true passage of play (2-0 would have been fairer) but still, instantly it looked like Chelsea were gonna end up miles behind Manchester United this season. And even though they both drew their next game, the results this weekend have put both sides level on points this season.

Will four points from their opening three games be enough to finish fifth in the Premier League? It’s hard to say, but after watching United vs. Palace one thing is for sure, Chelsea don’t have to worry about Manchester United leaving them behind.

Loser: David de Gea

Oh what the hell was that? Seriously, what the actual hell? Alright getting wrongfooted by Jordan Ayew for the first goal wasn’t great but whatever, it can happen. But Patrick Van Aanholt blasting one through you? In the last minute at Old Trafford? After your team-mates have scored a late equaliser and are pushing for a win? Come on!

David de Gea cannot be considered to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world anymore. Sure, top 10 maybe, but even that’s not a lock given how he has actually been playing – he’s lost his mojo. Forget the name for a second and imagine that was, say, Massimo Taibi in nets for United. Do you think anyone would be even remotely understanding of him? They’d be calling for his head! Meanwhile United have handed him the captain’s armband and continue to delude themselves that he is still top-class.

Perhaps it’s not his fault, maybe his coaches have fallen off a cliff and he’s now being guided by a family of narcoleptic foxes that have been steadily using that Men in Black flashy thing to erase the near-post from De Gea’s memory. Seriously, how do you ignore your near-post to such a degree that Van Aanholt can just leather one through you like he’s Leo Messi?

Come on!