Anthony Martial shines again, but Manchester United full of 5/10s
As has been the case throughout Louis van Gaal's time at the club, whenever Manchester United start to look like they're capable of achieving something, the team falls apart.
On the back of three good performances -- with United playing attacking football against Derby, Stoke and Chelsea -- Van Gaal's men just didn't show up at the Stadium of Light and lost 2-1 against Sunderland. As was the case with David Moyes, who seemed to break a long-standing record every week, the Dutchman has now overseen United's first defeat at Sunderland since 1997.
Wahbi Khazri gave Sunderland an early lead after his free kick managed to find its way through the crowded penalty area and just inside David de Gea's post. A wonderful chip from Anthony Martial put United back in the game and, after a dominant start from Sunderland, United looked more likely to be the team to go on and score a winner.
However, Sunderland were worthy winners, with Lamine Kone leaping to head past De Gea, who knocked Martial's clearance into his own goal when on the floor.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK, David De Gea, 6 -- It was a mixed game for the goalkeeper, who made a couple of good saves, particularly from Dame N'Doye. He was arguably slow to react to the first goal, although he was largely unsighted, and he could have done better with the second, but was unlucky it went in.
DF, Matteo Darmian, 5 -- The Italian had a game to forget. He gave away the early free kick for Sunderland's first goal and was then subbed off in the first half with a shoulder injury, when he landed awkwardly.
DF, Chris Smalling, 6 -- Coped well with Jermaine Defoe for the most part but then lost Kone for the header that condemned United to defeat.
DF, Daley Blind, 7 -- Didn't get much wrong and managed to block a chance from Defoe that would have made it 2-1 to Sunderland much earlier.
DF, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, 6 -- The youngster didn't play as well as he has done recently but still put in a promising performance, both in attack and defence.
MF, Morgan Schneiderlin, 5 -- Given his job is to protect the back four, Sunderland managed to get on the edge of United's box far too regularly.
MF, Michael Carrick, 5 -- Saw lots of the ball in the first half but was guilty of far too many loose passes. He looked so slow and picked up a silly booking.
MF, Jesse Lingard, 5 -- Before getting subbed off, he got a bit of a battering from the Sunderland players and contributed little to the attack.
MF, Juan Mata, 7 -- The Spaniard had an impressive first half, playing some good balls forward into the box, and had United's first shot on target. It was his effort that stung the hands of the keeper, with Martial chipping in the rebound. He later had another effort blocked by Jack Rodwell.
MF, Anthony Martial, 7 -- As per usual, one of very few positives for United. He made a few dangerous runs into the box and his finish for the goal was superb.
ST, Wayne Rooney, 5 -- The captain wasted a great opportunity to equalise moments after Sunderland took the lead, when Mata played him through. A low-key performance when they needed him at his best.
DF, Donald Love, 5 -- Very mixed performance. The youngster got into some good positions going forward but looked shaky at the back.
MF, Memphis Depay, 6 -- Also found good positions but didn't change much after he came on.
FW, Will Keane, N/A -- Five minutes wasn't enough time to repeat some of the goal-scoring feats he has managed for the under-21s this season.
Scott is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.