Manchester United handed the Premier League crown to arch-rivals Manchester City after they succumbed to a shock 1-0 home defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion. The victory was only the Baggies’ fourth of the campaign but the west Midlands side still have the slender opportunity of beating the drop.
Three things we learned:
Manchester United come up with another lacklustre performance: United supporters will have expected to cruise to a comfortable win over West Bromwich Albion after they secured a surprise 3-2 derby win over Manchester City in the previous week. However, their showing has relatively no positives with Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez struggling to replicate their recent performance. Both Pogba and Sanchez appeared to occupy a similar position on the left side of the pitch, and this appeared to hamper the former, who often requires space to thrive. Their teammates were equally disappointing with the three-man midfield combination from the start, lacking sufficient penetration with pace in the opposition ranks.
West Brom keep their survival hopes alive: The Baggies showed a defensive resolve during their first game under caretaker boss Darren Moore, where they played out a 1-1 draw versus Swansea City. At Old Trafford, the players were equally impressive with just one-third of the possession, and the late Jay Rodriguez goal has ensured that they are still mathematically in the running to save their Premier League status. The Baggies can acquire a maximum of 36 points with four games left in the campaign, but their fixture list is the toughest of the lot with matches against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace and Newcastle United – all of whom are in good vein of form. The victory over United was the Baggies’ first league triumph on the road since August.
Manchester United must refocus to avoid a trophyless season: Despite the defeat, United have a one-point advantage over Liverpool for the second position with an extra game in hand against Bournemouth on Wednesday. Following the Cherries clash, United have a season-defining encounter against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final, and the result could make or break their campaign. Spurs dominated the proceedings during United’s previous visit to Wembley in the Premier League, and though the fixture is considered a neutral venue this time around, their rivals should have the ascendancy with the better feel of the surroundings. Mourinho has not delivered the Premier League title in his second season in charge, and the failure to progress to the FA Cup final is likely to increase the negativity around the Portuguese’s managerial position.