Manchester United 1-1 Stoke City  Tactical Analysis : Red Devils pay the price for not taking chances

Manchester United 1-1 Stoke City  Tactical Analysis : Red Devils pay the price for not taking chances

It was a frustrating game for Jose Mourinho's men, one in which they played some really good football, but were also really poor when it came to finishing off their chances.

Ninad Barbadikar

Manchester United have played worse and had better results, but against Stoke City, it just wasn't meant to be for the Red Devils.

They kept knocking on the door constantly and Lee Grant produced save after save to keep the United attackers at bay and preserve his side a valuable point going into the international break.

The home side played some fantastic football in the first half but lost their momentum in the second half as Stoke piled on the pressure and consequently kept the United attack at bay.

A goal from substitute Anthony Martial had seemingly shifted the momentum, but Stoke weren't prepared to back down and Joe Allen got an equaliser for the Potters after some poor defending from United gifted them a route back into the game.

Let's break down the draw tactically and see what were the key factors of the game.

Lack of proper service from the flanks 

As excellent as United have been from providing service from the wings, the performance of the players from the flanks here left much to be desired from the team and once again by Zlatan. 

Neither of the two full backs did much to provide the big Swede with the crosses he needed to exert his presence in the box.

Most of United's play was through the middle, which was at times, delightful to watch but was ultimately ineffective in delivering the result for Jose Mourinho's men.

Zlatan wasted some big opportunities to give United the lead (Source: Getty | Richard Heathcote)
Zlatan wasted some big opportunities to give United the lead (Source: Getty | Richard Heathcote)

Mata and Pogba not at their best 

When we look at the starting eleven that Mourinho sends out for games, we look at Juan Mata and Paul Pogba as the game-changers. Mata with his clever passing, movement and his intelligence, Pogba with his energy, skill and his trickery on the ball. Both these players who make United tick on most occasions, didn't have the same influence on the game as they did in previous games.

It is also interesting to note that Stoke were happy to allow United to have the ball and were man marking the United players, while this didn't entirely limit the Red Devils, it did cause them troubles which led to a broken rhythm in play for them.

United defence looking suspect to poor positioning

Although it was only a 1-1 draw and Stoke didn't threaten United in an attacking sense much at all, it is important to note that the United defence had lost their discipline and were all over the park.

In particular players like Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia, who like to have the ball at their feet and go forward, were out of position - this allowed Marko Arnautovic to threaten the United defence off the right-hand side.

It might seem unfair to blame Daley Blind for Stoke's equaliser but it was the Dutchman that gave the ball away to a throw in, which consequently led to the away side equalising after capitalising on some poor defensive actions from the United's defense and inability from David De Gea to parry the ball away safely.

United head into the international break in mixed form and carry mixed momentum ahead of their exciting clash against arch rivals Liverpool in the league. It will certainly be interesting to see how Jose's men react to this drab draw.