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Six things we learned from Manchester United vs Everton

Manchester United missed the opportunity to take the lead in the Premier League after a 1-1 draw with Everton.

Anthony Martial’s goal was not enough to win the game against Rafa Benitez’s side due to Andros Townsend’s equalizer.

Here’s a look at five things we learned from the game …

(OLI SCARFF / AFP via Getty Images)

Solskjaer returns to 4-2-3-1

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went for a 4-3-3 system against Villarreal midweek and United seemed too open to the counterattack.

Fred was on Paul Pogba’s side here as Solskjaer returned to his proven 4-2-3-1.

Demarai Gray was still able to find space between the lines at times, but overall there was more control in the first half but still a lack of invention.

Debate over whether Fred and Scott McTominay are both required in midfield will continue, and Solskjaer brought in Paul Pogba for the Brazilian with United looking for a game-winning goal after 70 minutes.

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League
(Matthew Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)

Ronaldo is dropable

It makes sense that at 36, Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t play every game and it was the first Premier League game he has been on the bench for since his return.

Edinson Cavani deserved a start, and it was a preview of how Solskjaer will manage his team going forward.

Solskjaer is usually used to making late substitutions, but Ronaldo replaced Cavani in the 56th minute here.

Bruno Fernandes is seemingly the only unchallengeable player in United’s forward areas, but in the end the gamble on giving Ronaldo a rest proved costly.

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League
(Matthew Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)

Martial puts an end to his drought before injury

The inclusion of Anthony Martial was perhaps even more surprising than Ronaldo left on the bench.

Solskjaer was clearly keen to maintain his confidence in the France international and he responded with a first goal in eight months to open the scoring.

Martial’s confidence seemed weak before breaking the deadlock. His dribbling was laborious and he was hesitant when attacking a header early.

The BT Sport camera focused on Martial when he stepped onto the pitch after half-time, but it looked like he was limping and grimacing.

And it turned out, with Martial exiting for Jadon Sancho within 11 minutes of the interval.

That meant Martial’s afternoon ended on a bitter note and he hopes the issue is nothing serious after scoring when he got a chance to shine.

United are back home

United got into the habit of coming back from behind away from home last season. The reverse is happening regularly at home this quarter.

United have taken a 1-0 lead in three of their four home league games so far, before being pushed back each time.

The above statistic must be of concern to Solskjaer. United roared against Leeds and Newcastle, but it’s difficult to score twice in every home game just to get a win.

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League
(Ash Donelon / Manchester United via Getty Images)

Sancho’s cameo was brilliant

Sancho has been accused of adding urgency to United’s attack when looking for a winner.

It’s clear his confidence is growing and there was a particularly impressive moment when he left Ben Godfrey for dead on the left flank.

A United first goal still eludes him – and a late opportunity has been missed – but the signs are good and Solskjaer underlined his confidence in the winger yesterday.

It was another step in the right direction despite another disappointing collective performance and a poor result.

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League
(Matthew Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)

United miss a chance to reach the top

United entered this game knowing that if they won they would go on to lead the league.

With Liverpool and Manchester City face to face tomorrow, it was an opportunity to catch at least one rival for the title.

United started off as a team with a bit between their teeth before the performance snaked and the flatness of the crowd reflected that.

Ultimately there was not to be any act of escape like the midweek dramas against Villarreal and that was a big missed opportunity.

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Mildred Lasky

The author Mildred Lasky