Things we noticed against Palace

Wednesday 18 January 2023 22:45

Manchester United battled to a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on Wednesday night – a result that sees Erik ten Hag's side pull level with second-placed Manchester City on 39 points in the Premier League.

Bruno Fernandes scored an excellent opener just before half-time, before Michael Olise's stunning 91st-minute equaliser gave the in-form David De Gea zero chance.

But what else grabbed our attention across the 90 minutes? Here are our key takeaways from Selhurst Park...

Bruno Fernandes seemed to be working with some kind of teleportation device at Selhurst Park. The Portuguese midfielder was absolutely everywhere. He started the match by linking play brilliantly, keeping the ball ticking over whether he collected possession in the middle or on the wing. He then showed incredible composure in our box to play out from the back; a pressure situation that many would have hoofed clear. It wouldn’t have been surprising to see Fernandes latch on to his own pass, such was his energy and desire to impact the match. And impact the match he did. Bruno strolled onto Christian Eriksen’s pass, took a moment to compose himself and then slammed home a deserved opener just before the break.


There can’t be many tougher grounds to make your United debut at. Wout Weghorst was thrust into the side at the earliest possible opportunity after signing on loan from Burnley earlier this month. He was clearly eager to impress, starting the game by pressing the Palace defence into rushing play at the back. The Dutchman linked passes well early on, dropping slightly deep to flick the ball clear of Palace’s midfield on multiple occasions. He also laid Casemiro on for a long-range shot, then sprinted back to crucially clear a dangerous free-kick. His best chance came in the first half, where he narrowly headed over from a powerful cross.

Give Casemiro a tightrope and he will willingly walk it, no matter the consequence. The Brazilian went into the match knowing a yellow card would see him suspended for the trip to Arsenal on Sunday, and it didn’t change his game one bit. His first half was defined by subtle touches to keep control of the ball; a flick away from the nearest opponent, then a deft toe to keep things moving. He started the second half with two vital interceptions to halt speedy Palace breaks into the box, later racing back to cut out a cross just after the hour. The yellow card we didn’t want to see came with 10 minutes to go for a foul that saved an ominous-looking chance for the home side. He'll be a big miss against the Gunners, but Casemiro's desire was pivotal to us getting a point.


It was Butcher by name, Butcher by headband for the returning Lisandro Martinez in south London. The World Cup winner started his first Premier League match since lifting the trophy in Qatar, a welcome sight for United fans everywhere. Martinez’s early head injury may have evoked memories of another Butcher for the older generation, but it didn’t slow down his combativeness one bit. His presence in central defence pushed Luke Shaw into his more familiar left-back position, but there were some interesting interchanges between the pair. Martinez often slotted into Shaw’s position when the full-back drove forwards. Shaw then sprinted back to the centre if play broke down. It was just another example of the versatility Ten Hag loves the team to show, and potentially a key tactic moving forwards.

Alejandro Garnacho’s first senior away game was actually at Selhurst Park during our last game of the 2021/22 campaign. He came on for 11 minutes, replacing Diogo Dalot in the 1-0 defeat. This time, his 20-minute cameo underlined how far he has come, as Ten Hag once again turned to the 18-year-old at an important point of a match. Garnacho has one goal and two assists in the Premier League this season, including the Rashford winner he laid on during the 2-1 win over Man City. His frightening speed and fleet-footedness will always make him an explosive threat, but it’s important to remember how diligently he is carrying out all his duties right now. The manager consistently trusts Garnacho as he adds footballing IQ to all that natural ability. We can't wait to see more.