Manchester United's eight-match win streak in all competitions finally came to an end on Tuesday, as Burnley held them to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League.
The Clarets frustrated the Red Devils with their excellent organisation, and Ashley Barnes gave them a shock lead after the break. Despite the hosts' best efforts, they couldn't find a timely way back into the contest, and Chris Wood doubled the lead inside the final 10 minutes.
Paul Pogba gave the home fans some hope with a penalty goal and Victor Lindelof tied things up in added time, but the hosts couldn't find a late winner.
The Red Devils had won all of their matches under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming into Tuesday's meeting with the Clarets.
Burnley Struggles Prove United Can't Drop Lingard
United's schedule for the months of February and March looks absolutely brutal, and coming off a hard-fought FA Cup win over Arsenal, Solskjaer understandably opted to rotate his squad a bit. He'll have plenty more rotating to do in the future, so this contest gave him a chance to see what his smartest choices would be.
If there's one thing he should have learned, it's that he can't drop Jesse Lingard. With Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata making up the attacking three on Tuesday, the setup lost much of its fluidity and drive, leading to few chances in the first half.
Sportswriter Samuel Luckhurst noted it was just the second time the team failed to score a first-half goal under the interim boss, and the last time it happened Lingard was also absent:
Chris Winterburn expected him to make his way on the pitch soon in the second half:
Lingard's mobility and his tendency to dive inside or make overlapping runs is key to Solskjaer's all-action attacking system. It frees up space for Rashford, who had one of his worst outings yet under the new manager on Tuesday, and often creates openings for the midfielders as well.
Pogba's scoring ability is vital in the system, and he didn't find many looks against the Clarets. His penalty goal came after a foul on Lingard, and that was no accident.
Pereira, United Have to Part Ways
Andreas Pereira's situation at Old Trafford is an unfortunate one. The academy product can't get enough minutes to build up any consistency, and every time he's gotten his opportunity, he has fallen flat on his face this season.
Tuesday was no different. The 23-year-old Belgian-born Brazil international got his second start of the month and was among the worst players on the pitch, routinely slowing down attacks and gifting the ball to the opposition.
He made a disastrous error to hand the visitors the lead, and Luckhurst didn't understand why he had been sent out to start the second half to begin with:
At the age of 23 he's no longer a prospect. He hasn't made any real improvements since his loan spell at Granada and fell short of the expectations at Valencia last season.
His talent is undeniable, but he desperately needs a change in order to continue his progression. The minutes simply aren't there at Old Trafford, and they won't increase if he continues to disappoint when he does get his chance.
United have to find a better option in midfield, because Pereira isn't working out. And the midfielder needs a new environment to finally make good on his potential.
United visit Leicester City on Sunday, while Burnley host Southampton on Saturday.