Manchester United were held to a goalless draw by Premier League basement boys Southampton on Sunday despite both teams having plenty of chances to snatch all three points for themselves over the course of the 90 minutes. Erik ten Hag's side were a long way off their best at Old Trafford as they failed to bounce back from last weekend's historic defeat at Liverpool, with Southampton's spirited approach causing plenty of problems for the Red Devils in spite of their lowly position at the foot of the division.
Express Sport takes a look at some of the biggest talking points from Sunday's game, which also saw Casemiro sent off before the interval, as United were made to pay for another disappointing performance against the Saints...
Casemiro lets Red Devils down
Casemiro struggled to hide his disappointment after he was sent off for a reckless challenge on Carlos Alcaraz just before half-time, although he did not have much to complain about after plunging his studs into the shin of his opposite number. His second red card of the season means that he will now serve a four-match suspension, which will bring his total number of fixtures missed since joining the Red Devils from Real Madrid in the summer up to nine.
The Brazilian midfielder actually seemed to have won back possession with his tackle on Alcaraz, but his foot went on to roll over the top of the ball and connect with his opponent in an uncontrolled manner. It could be argued that he was slightly unlucky to have been dismissed as a result of the challenge, although he should have known better than to risk another ban by making such an overzealous lunge.
Casemiro's sending-off also means that United will be without two of their first-choice midfielders for their next few outings, with Christian Eriksen still sidelined as he continues to recover from a long-term ankle injury that was sustained back in January.
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Ten Hag gamble fails
Jadon Sancho was deployed in an unfamiliar role for United against Southampton, with the 22-year-old being asked to play as a central attacking midfielder just behind Wout Weghorst. He was just fine in possession of the ball but is, of course, a natural winger and it showed throughout his time on the pitch in terms of his defensive positioning.
Sancho looked confused as he tried to figure out his off-the-ball responsibilities early on and did not really settle into the game before he was eventually replaced by Alejandro Garnacho in the second half. Bruno Fernandes also seemed lost in a deeper role alongside Casemiro before the latter's sending-off, with the Portuguese maestro clearly better suited to a more advanced position behind the lone striker.
It seems as though the gamble to switch things up in midfield did not pay off for United and although they were not punished with a defeat at the hands of Southampton, it would undoubtedly be a smarter decision for Ten Hag to stick with what works against better opponents.
Unconvincing at the back
United should arguably have been a goal behind in the first half against Southampton, who took a brave approach to closing down the hosts in order to stop them from playing out the back. It worked on plenty of occasions but the Saints failed to make their opportunities count, with Theo Walcott and Kamaldeen Sulemana failing to find the back of the net from close range before the half-time whistle.
It was a highly unconvincing defensive performance from United both in and out of possession at the back, with Lisandro Martinez's early yellow card holding him back from challenging opponents in the full-blooded manner that he is accustomed to. However, it seems as though United's back four were mainly let down by their midfielders, who struggled to offer much protection at the best of times as Southampton found joy on the break.
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Will Weghorst ever come good?
United's decision to bring in Wout Weghorst on loan until the end of the season is starting to look more and more like a classic panic signing rather than a deal with any sort of potential to improve their on-pitch fortunes. The towering Dutch forward is still yet to score in the Premier League and did not even come close against Southampton, with his best chance coming in the form of a disappointing free header that bounced tamely into the arms of Saints goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu before he was substituted prior to the half-time whistle.
It seems clear that Weghorst is just not good enough to play for United, who will continue to suffer at the top of the pitch for as long as Ten Hag persists with deploying him as a central striker. His lacklustre performance against Southampton only served to highlight that the Red Devils will be crying out for a world-class marksman to come in at the end of the campaign and it will be crucial for them to make the right choice in order to reach their full potential next season.
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