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Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea: Three things we learned

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What should we take from United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea?

Manchester United v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United played out a disappointing draw against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon at Old Trafford, once again putting their chances of finishing in the top four in jeopardy. Birthday boy Juan Mata put the Red Devils up one early into the match before Marcos Alonso leveled both sides shortly before the half. The stalemate at Old Trafford saw the Blues climb into fourth in the league while the hosts trail Arsenal in sixth.

Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

Another disastrous match for De Gea

For the first time in his career, keeper David de Gea has conceded a goal in each of his last nine domestic appearances. Rather than wondering how the Spaniard will save United in memorable fashion, fans now wonder week-by-week how another blunder by the reigning Golden Glove winner will cost his side points.

Antonio Rudiger got the ball and took a shot at goal from 25 yards out. De Gea did not deflect the ball properly to finish the save. The 28-year-old failed to keep control of the ball and Alonso, who was in a perfect position, anticipated the rebound and put in the back of the net.

If de Gea remains the man in goal for United next season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must find a way to restore confidence in his best player. Other concerns in Manchester are far worse than the keeper. However, de Gea is completely depleted of morale at a time his less than impressive side need him the most.

Things click when Luke Shaw is on the pitch

If there’s anything these last several matches have revealed, Luke Shaw brings some cohesion to an otherwise dismantled roster. The Englishman was missing in action the last couple games due to a collection of yellow cards. In his place, Ashley Young and Diogo Dalot shared left-back responsibilities.

Shaw’s natural left foot is a key advantage to United’s defense. As the ball moves down that side of the pitch, often times the Red Devils have to pause, switch their footing and pass with the most dominant leg. For Shaw, he effortlessly finishes his run while maintaining possession without suffering any major miscues. The 23-year-old’s subtle yet meaningful contributions on the pitch make him a frontrunner for player of the year honors.

Top four is still up for grabs

Chelsea would have to lose one of the final two matches of the year for United to creep into the top four. Dismal second half performances from both United and Chelsea reveal both teams are exhausted and whichever club finishes in fourth place will have barely staggered across that line. Unlike Maurizio Sarri’s man who lucked their way into sharing points on Sunday, United showed promise and grit to eventually settle with a draw.

Chelsea and fifth place Arsenal’s Europa League matches could perhaps work in United’s favor. Both are scheduled to kick off in the semi-finals on Thursday, forcing their managers to get creative with determining the starting XI. Tottenham, who only separate United by five points at third place in the league standings, take the pitch for their Champions League contest Tuesday. Theoretically, it’s still United’s top four to lose. With the complex essence of the Premier League, these final two matches could turn everything around in United’s favor. It would have to make for a perfect scenario, but a Champions League berth is still possible.