Seven deadly stats from Man United's draw at Stoke as Marcus Rashford closes in on a Red Devils record

Aditya Devavrat 23:45 09/09/2017
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Manchester United’s perfect start to the season came to an end in a familiar way – points dropped against Stoke City.

The Premier League leaders haven’t won away to Stoke in six years, with Saturday’s 2-2 draw the latest result in that barren run.

United knew they were in for a difficult game and actually fell behind to an Eric Choupo-Moting goal, giving the side their first taste of adversity this season.

They responded well, equalising instantly through Marcus Rashford before Romelu Lukaku gave them the lead after halftime. But another Choupo-Moting strike and some resolute Stoke City defending denied the Red Devils the three points.

Here are seven deadly stats from the game:

UNITED’S IMPREGNABLE FORTRESS BREACHED

United were yet to concede in the league this season, cruising to 4-0 wins against West Ham and Swansea and a battling 2-0 victory over Leicester City. Phil Jones and Eric Bailly had both come in for praise during that start, but on Saturday the latter contributed to United’s defensive fortress finally being breached, first failing to push up to play for an offside and then getting beaten by Choupo-Moting. 

It was a special moment for the Cameroonian attacker, getting a first-ever goal for Stoke City, and he’d add to that account later in the match.

RASHFORD THE TEEN SENSATION

Marcus Rashford’s rise has been well-documented, from his stunning debut under Louis Van Gaal two seasons ago to his more measured but still impressive play last year as he added more facets to his game under Jose Mourinho. Through all that, the goals kept coming.

He knew very little about his goal on Saturday – if anything, he inadvertently denied teammate Paul Pogba, whose goalbound header went in off Rashford’s back. Nonetheless, it continues Rashford’s remarkable start to his career.

If Rashford can get four more league goals before his 20th birthday on October 31, he’ll set a new mark for the highest number of Premier League goals by a teenager for Manchester United.

UNITED’S NOT-SO-SOLID DEFENCE

Perhaps due to the international break disrupting their rhythm, the Manchester United defence did not look as solid as it had in the first three games of the league season.

Stoke City also deserve their fair share of credit, as the home attack put pressure on United’s defence that the Red Devils’ previous three opponents hadn’t, and it made for a sloppy first half for Mourinho’s back line.

LUKAKU’S STRONG START

It was almost a surprise when Lukaku didn’t score in United’s previous game – especially considering he took a penalty in that encounter against Leicester City.

As it stands, after his second-half goal on Saturday to give United a brief lead, that penalty miss is the only reason Lukaku hasn’t set a new mark for the most goals scored by a United player in his first four Premier League appearances for the club. He’ll have to be content with sharing that record.

STOKE FIND SCORING TOUCH…

Stoke City had shown their resilience in a 1-0 win over Arsenal earlier in the season, but even after that result and a subsequent 1-1 draw against West Brom, there were concerns regarding how deadly their attack could be.

Thanks to Choupo-Moting’s equaliser – his second goal of the day – those questions will be laid to rest, at least temporarily. Along with the Cameroonian, PSG loanee Jese is expected to be a reliable goalscorer and it’s only a matter of time before new signing Saido Berahino rediscovers his goalscoring form.

…AND REDISCOVER BIG-GAME PROWESS

Under Tony Pulis, Stoke City had come to be known as a team even the top sides would fear. That aura had begun to disappear, especially last year, when Tottenham (twice), Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City all put four past Mark Hughes’ side.

In all, Stoke managed two draws against Manchester United and one against City last season, with the other nine games against the top six all ending in defeat.

Thanks to their win against Arsenal in August and Saturday’s draw, the Potters have already begun righting that record this season.

MARK HUGHES, JOSE’S NEW NEMESIS

Speaking of Hughes, the Welshman is now enjoying a little run of success against Jose Mourinho.

The two even had a minor dust-up during Saturday’s game, with Hughes getting a warning for coming close to encroaching Mourinho’s technical area after attempting to keep the United manager from having a word with the referee.

There’s no doubting the source of Mourinho’s frustration, with his team failing to find a late winner despite their best efforts and thus dropping points for the first time this season. But perhaps his opposite number also had something to do with it.

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