Sluggish Manchester United held by Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur thrash QPR

Aug 25 2014, 08:34 IST
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SummaryManchester United laboured to a ponderous 1-1 draw at Sunderland that delivered a first Premier League point for Louis van Gaal but laid bare their dire need for reinforcements.

Manchester United laboured to a ponderous 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Sunday that delivered a first Premier League point for Louis van Gaal but laid bare their dire need for reinforcements and exposed frailties at both ends of the pitch.

United's problems were there for all to see as Juan Mata's opening goal on 17 minutes proved a unique scoring opportunity while their lack of a commanding centre half was exploited by an unmarked Jack Rodwell for Sunderland's equaliser.

They now find themselves five points adrift of early Premier League pace-setters Tottenham Hotspur, who were Sunday's big winners with a 4-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers that ensured Harry Redknapp suffered a second straight defeat and a miserable return to his former club.

In Sunday's other game, Hull City played most of the match with 10 men and came within six minutes of holding on for victory over Stoke City, but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.

PRESSING CONCERN

With the transfer window edging towards a close, United were handed another reminder that nothing but significant investment in a squad that lacks depth and strength will spark an improvement in their fortunes after last season's woes.

They lacked penetration in attack with little pace or incision and while Mata tapped home following a driving run and fizzing cross from Antonio Valencia, the Spaniard was largely ineffective as a central playmaker.

As English media reported United were nearing a deal for Real Madrid's Argentina winger Angel Di Maria, many United fans were perhaps wondering if the more pressing concern lies at the back despite defender Marcos Rojo's arrival midweek.

It was Robin van Persie who let Rodwell run and jump unchecked to head Sunderland's leveller on 30 minutes, but in centre backs Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and youngster Tyler Blackett, United seemed to lack the presence of a leader.

For new manager Van Gaal, who has already claimed it will take a miracle to propel United to the Premier League summit, Sunday's woes stemmed from midfield.

"We have one point and that is not good enough for Manchester United," the Dutchman told the BBC.

"We have to work a lot. The players are very disappointed after the game because we thought we would win.

"The purpose of the game is to create more chances and score goals. We haven't created more chances. You have to recognise the fight of the opponent.

"We have reached Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie a lot

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