Manchester United’s 100% league record came to a halt as Mark Hughes’ Stoke City held them to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League. Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford’s goals were cancelled by Stoke’s summer signing Choupo-Moting’s superb brace.
Manchester United were the dominant side for most of the game, but it was Stoke that took the lead. Choupo-Moting ghosted past the United defence and escaped his marker Bailly to smash home a cross in the 43rd minute. However, much to Hughes’ anger, their lead lasted only three minutes as Rasford’s unknowing header put United back on level going into the break.
United took the lead in the 57th minute after Mkhitaryan sent Lukaku through on goal. The Belgian’s first shot was blocked by Butland, but he second attempt found its way into the net. Just when United looked likely to score another, Stoke came back with an equaliser out of nowhere, as Choupo-Moting completed his brace with a header off Shaqiri’s corner, just seconds after De Gea had pulled off a world-class save from Jese Rodriguez’s shot from point blank range. United were then forced into a draw by a resilient Stoke defence, which understandably left Mourinho unhappy.
With this win, United remain on top of the league, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference. They next face Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Here are the major Talking Points from the match-
It is hard to believe that Stoke was only 14th last season in terms of points won at home last season, particularly because they’re the most daunting of hosts for most of the Big 6. United haven’t won a game at the Bet365 Stadium in the last 6 attempts, and this was another frustrating day for Mourinho’s men, who look to have lost two important points. Lukaku missing a sitter did nothing to improve the mood, and his first touch finishing has time and again been masked by his easier goals. Last season’s champions Chelsea next visit Stoke, and they’ll be wary of dropping points particularly after this match.
Choupo-Moting steals the show
This was meant to be Choupo-Moting’s day, who scored his first two goals after joining Stoke as a free agent. His arrival wasn’t highly celebrated, but he surely has become a fan favourite after this game. The former Schalke man could’ve even missed the match, after being withdrawn from Cameroon’s qualifying match with injury scare. However, he was fit and raring to go, and after a confident display, could he be Stoke’s unlikely talisman this season?
Time to Scrap the 4-3-3?
This was the first time Mourinho deployed the 4-3-3 since that Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid earlier in the season. However, the draw has proved yet again that United are a better side in their new 4-2-1-3 formation. Even players like Mkhitaryan and Matic aren’t too comfortable when a three-man midfield is deployed. However, this would force Mourinho to make a big decision- freeing United’s attack or keeping fan-favourite Herrera in the playing eleven?
Basel Up Next
United next host Basel in the UCL, and will be wary of a side that has caused an upset against them before. It’ll be interesting to see how the duo of Smalling and Lindelof performs in the absence of Bailly and Jones, and would Romero start his first game of the season? There are many things to look forward to after this first match of a gruelling seven-game tight September.