Manchester United’s hopes of a first league title in eight years were dealt a major blow as they suffered a shock 2-1 loss to bottom side, Sheffield United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made six changes from the side that beat Liverpool in the FA Cup at the weekend, but his side were sloppy from the off, with a whole host of passes going astray as they struggled to create any chances of note in the opening exchanges.
Sheffield United took the lead in the game between the two sides at Bramall Lane last month, and they repeated the trick at Old Trafford, David de Gea making a complete hash of his attempted punch from John Fleck’s corner, with Kean Bryan beating the Spaniard in the air to head the visitors into the lead off the post.
Replays suggested there had been a push from Billy Sharp on De Gea as Fleck’s corner came in, and moments later, United had a goal ruled out for an apparent foul on Aaron Ramsdale from Harry Maguire, though in truth, there didn’t look to be too much between the two incidents.
Manchester United improved marginally after the break and had a couple of efforts on goal from set-pieces before they eventually hauled themselves level, Maguire rising highest to meet an Alex Telles corner with the former Sheffield United defender steering his header past Ramsdale.
However, the divisions bottom side restored their lead with 16 minutes to play, some woeful defending from Solskjaer’s side ultimately ending up with Oliver Burke’s effort deflecting off the thigh of Axel Tuanzebe and into the back of the net off the underside of the bar.
Manchester United pushed in search of an equaliser, but they never really looked like challenging Ramsdale’s goal, the Blades defence putting their bodies on the line throughout the game against a decidedly blunt United attack.
Before tonight, Man Utd were on the longest unbeaten league run of any team in Europe's top five divisions:
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) January 27, 2021
Speaking after the game Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side were far from their best but insisted there wouldn’t be a ‘big inquest’ into the loss, his side having come into the game with the longest unbeaten run in Europe’s top five divisions.
“We had all the possession but when you concede two bad goals it’s always going to be difficult,” he told BT Sport.
“We didn’t create big enough chances to score enough goals. That magic was missing, that little bit extra.
“They defended well, fair play to them but we didn’t have the right ideas or solutions. The first goal is a foul, Billy Sharp runs into David de Gea. At the other end, no foul for the disallowed goal for us but it’s that kind of season. Two mistakes by the referee.
“It wasn’t to be, the second goal we conceded is so poor, so sloppy. Easy. We stopped getting out to the ball, three or four bad decisions which is out of character.
“There will be no big inquest. There have been so many odd results this season, but with the world as it is we have been the most consistent team, it hit us today.”
The result leaves United in second, a point behind Man City who again have a game in hand, while Sheffield United took their points tally to eight as they look to pull off one of the greatest Premier League escapes.
Next up for Solskjaer’s side is an away trip to face a recently resurgent Arsenal, before back-to-back home games against Southampton and Everton.