Manchester United may have avoided defeat away at Tottenham, but a draw still represents a blow to their prospects of finishing in the Premier League top four. The Red Devils were far from their best in the showdown in north London and relied on Bruno Fernandes to dig them out of a hole from 12 yards in order to escape with a point. And David De Gea and Fred would be lucky to keep their places in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on that evidence.
Manchester United went into the game against Tottenham on a run of 11 matches without defeat.
It looked as if that spell was set to come to an end when Steven Bergwijn gave Spurs the lead in the first half, with the Netherlands international’s shot swerving under David De Gea.
But United were able to secure a point through Fernandes, who scored his fourth goal for the club since his January move from the penalty spot.
Solskjaer’s side were far from their best throughout the contest and only really got going after the interval – particularly when Paul Pogba was introduced into the fray.
And De Gea and Fred must now be dropped for Wednesday’s crunch showdown with Chris Wilder’s high-flying Sheffield United.
For the former, it was another uncomfortable day at the office.
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Gone are the days where De Gea was United’s biggest strength. He’s gone from that to perhaps their biggest liability and weak link.
Before the match he’d made a series of costly errors against the likes of Arsenal, Everton and Watford this season.
That, after struggling towards the latter stages of last season.
Solskjaer has regularly backed the Spain international throughout his time at the helm, insisting he remains one of the best shot-stoppers in world football.
But De Gea’s best days appear to be behind him, with the 29-year-old letting his side down against Tottenham.
He should have saved Bergwijn’s shot. Sure, the ball was swerving but it was still right at him – and other goalkeepers would have kept it out.
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United can’t play Dean Henderson just yet, with the 23-year-old seeing out his loan with Sheffield United for the rest of the season.
But Sergio Romero is a capable pair of hands and has barely let the club down since touching down in the summer of 2015.
The Argentina international has the experience and nous to fill in for De Gea until the end of the season, with his team-mate’s position in the squad no longer untouchable.
For Fred, it’s been a much-improved campaign.
But with Pogba coming off the bench and making the spectacular impact he did, the Brazil international would be lucky to keep his place, too.
Scott McTominay wasn’t as impressive as usual against Tottenham, with Jose Mourinho finding a way to quell the power of his old pupil.
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But the Scotland international was better than Fred in the heat of the battle – and therefore deserves to keep his place.
Pogba simply has to play.
The United star changed the game against Tottenham, in what was his first appearance for the club since the 4-1 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day. He should be Fred’s replacement.
Next up for the Red Devils is a tricky test against Sheffield United, who remain in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
And Solskjaer’s side will need all three points if they’re to boost their own chances of playing in Europe’s top club competition next term.
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