Manchester United

A depleted Manchester United showed character and grit to brush aside Crystal Palace 1-3 at Selhurst Park to keep their top-four hopes alive. It was a stellar performance from Romelu Lukaku as he scored a brace. The Belgian broke the deadlock in the first half with Luke Shaw’s scintillating assist.

He came back in the second half to complete his brace. The home side pulled one back via Joel Ward’s solitary goal in the 66th minute. Ashley Young scored late in the dying exchanges to pile up the misery on Roy Hodgson’s men.

Romelu Lukaku more than just a plan B for Solskjaer at Manchester United?

The big Belgian forward was tremendous with one of his best performances in the Premier League this season. The Red Devils were hindered with huge injury woes. Yet, they managed to dominate Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park 1-3. That is to keep hopes of finishing in the top four positions alive.

It was a great piece of work from Luke Shaw who also brought his best game in a tricky situation and his cross from the left flank found Lukaku in space as the Belgian curled it past Tomkins and slots it home past the goalkeeper to give United the much-needed lead.

His second goal came in the second half. That is, as Palace failed to clear a corner. Victor Lindelof’s return delivery fell rightly on the path of Lukaku on the far post. He dodged past Schlupp to slot it past the keeper doubling the lead. It was Lukaku’s best performance under Solskjaer. The Belgian made a statement that he can be trusted in difficult situations and that he is not an ordinary alternative for Manchester United.

Crystal Palace missed the presence of Mamadou Sakho in defence?

Manchester United was literally too much for the likes of Kelly and Tomkins as they struggled throughout the match to contain the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the final third. Roy Hodgson definitely missed his defensive mainstay Mamadou Sakho who is out with a serious knee injury and is likely to miss the rest of the season.

It will be a tough task ahead for the Eagles without their experience man in defence. Sakho is known for his aerial abilities and physical prowess and having him would have been an upper hand for Hodgson against the Lukaku. Both Tomkins and Kelly were beaten by his movement and strength which could have countered if they had someone of Sakho’s calibre. It will be interesting to see how the manager sets his team for the next fixture.

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Has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer done enough to stay at Old Trafford next season?

Things were not so great when the Norwegian joined the helm. Even the fans did not expect a lot from their former player. However, wherever the Red Devils stand today is mainly because of the man who believed in his men. He guided them throughout their journey of resurgence. It is rightly said that he has the DNA of Sir Alex Ferguson. He is definitely proving everyone right.

Solskjaer became the only Manchester United manager to win eight consecutive away games in all competitions. He also got a staggering 26 points from his first 10 Premier League matches. This has helped him in setting a new record for the league.

He has now made the players, fans and everyone around the club believe that the Red Devils can finish in the top four positions. A thing once seemed like a distant reality. Will he stay at Old Trafford is something that the board will decide. The fans are loving it as long as the Norwegian is at the wheel of the club. Manchester United will have a big call to make too.