London: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer launched a tirade against the Premier League’s fixture schedule after his side’s vital win against Everton on Saturday as Chelsea pummelled Sheffield United 4-1 to climb to third.
The United boss was under intense pressure before the match at Goodison Park after defeat to Arsenal and an embarrassing loss to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.
But man-of-the-match Bruno Fernandes scored twice and new signing Edinson Cavani opened his account as United won 3-1, giving Solskjaer some much-needed breathing space before the international break.
Crystal Palace beat Leeds 4-1 to make it three defeats in four for Marcelo Bielsa’s men before Frank Lampard’s Chelsea came from behind thump Sheffield United by the same scoreline.
United started the match a lowly 15th in the table but showed grit and style as they recovered from going behind to a Bernard goal in the 19th minute.
Fernandes was the standout player for the 20-times champions, thriving in a creative midfield role in the absence of the benched Paul Pogba.
The Portuguese powered a header from a Luke Shaw cross past a flailing Jordan Pickford and scored again when an intended cross for Marcus Rashford was missed by the England international and the ball crept in off the far post.
Former Paris Saint-Germain striker Cavani made the points safe with a goal deep into stoppage time.
A visibly angry Solskjaer praised his players but fired a broadside at league bosses for scheduling United’s match early on Saturday after their midweek Champions League commitments.
“We were set up to fail,” the Norwegian told BT Sport.
“The kick-off time set us up to fail. We have been to Turkey, played loads of games this season already, we got back Thursday morning and we are playing Saturday lunchtime, it’s an absolute shambles.
“These boys deserve better. Luke Shaw has got injured because of it. It’s a hamstring which might be a long one and Marcus Rashford might be struggling.”
The victory at the home of Carlo Ancelotti’s early-season pacesetters was United’s seventh straight Premier League away win.
Their form on the road contrasts sharply with their struggles at Old Trafford, where they have not won a single league game so far this season.
Everton, who topped the Premier League table earlier this season, have now suffered three consecutive league defeats.
“I hope that after the international break we will back in a different shape,” said manager Carlo Ancelotti. “It is not only a problem of the defenders, it is all of the team.”
Chelsea are beginning to pick up the pace after their expensive summer rebuild and are now just one point behind Southampton and Liverpool, who play Manchester City on Sunday.
Lampard’s side, now unbeaten in six Premier League matches, went behind early at Stamford Bridge when David McGoldrick’s neat flick put Sheffield United in front.
But they hit back quickly, with England forward Tammy Abraham slotting home from Matteo Kovacic’s cutback and Ben Chilwell put Chelsea into a 2-1 lead just past the half-hour.
Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva bagged his first Chelsea goal to put the Blues 3-1 up before Timo Werner blasted past Aaron Ramsdale to put the home side in total control.
Leeds’ fine start to their first top-flight season after a 16-year absence is fading fast as they conceded four for the second time in a week at Crystal Palace.
Goals from Scott Dann and Eberechi Eze gave Palace a 2-0 lead before Patrick Bamford pulled one back. But an own goal from Leeds winger Helder Costa restored the home side’s two-goal cushion and Jordan Ayew completed the rout in the second half.
Speaking about his side’s defensive issues, Bielsa added: “How could it not worry me? It’s not a question of training more, and - apart from that - the international break doesn’t help us to train on this as most players will be away.”