Saturday Night Takeaways: Manchester United plunged into crisis after consecutive defeats

Meanwhile, Everton's inability to take chances in key games is likely to cost them European football

Manchester City return to the summit of the Premier League for this evening at least, but it's the red half of Manchester that will feel most worried after Louis van Gaal's side slumped to defeat against Bournemouth.

1) Manchester United plunge into crisis

Manchester United haven't won any of their last five games in all competitions. They failed to score on five occasions in the league and were this week dumped out of the Champions League.  They are out of the Capital One Cup and are without 10 first team players through injury.

These things alone wouldn't exactly alarm a fan and a lot can be said for missing key squad members. But as part of the bigger picture, United are in a crisis.

Their defensive frailties were exposed by the fact that they fielded an inexperienced back four, with Paddy McNair and Guillermo Varela joining Daley Blind and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson providing the rearguard. 

What is worrying is the fact that Louis van Gaal sees no major problem. He refuses to face the fact that this dull, ultra conservative style of football he has preached through his "philosophy" is resulting in toothless displays.

The Dutchman insists they can still win the Europa League and compete for the Premier League, but today's 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth was sobering in the extreme. This wasn't a hiccup, nor was it a freak result in the context of United's season, this was a poor performance from what looked like an group of ordinary players.

When chasing the game against Wolfsburg, they opted to bring on Nick Powell ahead of Ashley Young and sacrificed one of their most creative players in Juan Mata. Powell hadn't played a minute of senior football since United's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of MK Dons last year.

Today when they once again found themselves behind, they opted to bring on Phil Jones. Not Ashley Young or even Morgan Schneiderlin. No. Phil Jones.

Today's defeat will be sure to ramp up the pressure on the manager and if something doesn't change soon, United will find themselves out of the top four and out of Europe entirely. 

Anthony Martial looks dejected after a missed chance. Image:  Paul Harding / PA Wire/Press Association Images

2) Europe looks a million miles away after Everton's toothless display.

Roberto Martinez will be cursing his side's inability to finish as Everton slumped to their second consecutive 1-1 draw. He'll know that this was a game they could have and, more importantly, should have won.

In his post match interview on Monday night, Martinez said that if his team was to get a top-six spot, they would need to beat teams like Crystal Palace at home and today's performance reaffirmed these sentiments.

They could have gone in at the break five or six goals up this afternoon, instead they only scored once in the first half. They were made to rue this after Wes Hoolahan's eqauliser gave Norwich a share of the points.

If Everton are aiming to get into Europe they'll need to become more ruthless in front of goal. All great teams still manage to win without playing well and performances like today's at Carrow Road will only add weight to the argument that they aren't cut out for some of the continent's top teams.

Their next game is at home to high flying Leicester City, a team who they could learn a thing or two from when it comes to scoring goals.

3) Swansea lacking any sort of direction 

On paper it was always going to be a tough game. Factor in their recent form and they looked certain to struggle. 

Today's 2-1 defeat to Manchester City was a surprise to no one, but it was their performance on the field that is likely to set alarm bells ringing for the supporters.

At one stage today, Andre Ayew was taking instruction from caretaker boss Alan Curtis and neither he nor Curtis himself looked sure of the information being passed on.

The pair spoke for the best part of 90 seconds and the message just didn't seem to translate. Herein lies the problem; the lack of leadership on the pitch.

No one today stood up when Swansea went behind. No one commanded the midfield and no one demanded more from the players around him. 

Their first goal was conceded as a result of some slack marking from a corner and the second was symptomatic of a team who had clearly lost concentration in the final minutes of a game.

These are all signs of a lack of leadership, both on and off the field. Swansea need a new manager and the sooner they steady the ship, the better.

One win in 12 games is relegation territory by any standard.

A dejected Ashley Williams sees Swansea concede their first goal of the game. Credit: Martin Rickett / PA Wire/Press Association Images

4) Watford racking up valuable points

Hotly tipped to drop back down to the Championship, Watford had Odion Ighalo to thank once again as they beat Sunderland 1-0 to claim a priceless away win.

The result shouldn't be overlooked, when you consider the resurgent form Sunderland have enjoyed as of late, and 25 points from 16 games sees the Londoners climb to the dizzying heights of 7th in the league.

It's results like these that will see them steer well clear of the relegation zone and out of the relegation scrap that tends to envelope promoted sides after Christmas.

40 points is the goal for most sides who look to maintain their Premier League status and the Hornets are going the right way about it.

As we've mentioned before on SNTs, Odion Ighalo needs to be protected. He is their main source of goals this season and a constant impact up front with Deeney, he has been one of the season's standout players.

If he picks up a knock they could be in trouble. But right now, Watford are getting the most out of their forward line to secure their survival.

5) Slaven Bilic adds striker to shopping list

It would be inaccurate of me to suggest that West Ham have struggled in front of goal so far this term.

Zarate, Sakho and Payet have all weighed to leave West Ham in a reasonably good position this season and wins away to Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are nothing to be snubbed.

However, Andy Carroll's performance today highlighted the need for a reliable goalscorer in the Hammers' ranks.

The injury prone frontman hasn't exactly set Upton Park alight since his move and (in his defense) this is because he hasn't featured regularly enough for the club.

However, the aim should be top 10 for Bilic and without an established striker this will be near impossible.

A trip into the market in January will be in the front of his mind after today's scoreless draw with Stoke and should he pick up a forward with the prowess of Vardy, Lukaku or Ighalo, his side will rightly in the mix for a top half berth.

Andy Carroll could soon fall to the wayside at Upton Park. Image: John Walton / PA Archive/PA Images