A resounding win on the opening day for Man Utd vs Lampard’s Blues, Rashford notching two, with Martial and James scoring the others, perked up the mood for the whole Old Trafford faithful after a frustrating transfer window, and antecedent to that a terrible end to the previous season. The score-line did not reflect how the game transpired over those 90 minutes.
A first half saw the first 15 minutes dominated by the away side, Tammy Abraham striking the right post in the opening minutes. United struggled to put together real passages of possession and the press from Chelsea bore fruit as the first phase of play for United regularly broke down. It took a turnover in the middle of the pitch and a quick transition with Martial to get Rashford one on one with Kurt Zouma, who fouled the English international in the box to get a penalty, who the former tucked home with aplomb. The Red Devils enjoyed their best period of the half after the goal, more combinations between the front four being made, particularly Martial and Rashford. The midfield in Pogba and McTominay, even in this time, were giving away the ball, while Lingard and Pereira offered little in terms of options and were not stopping Chelsea’s midfield pick passes between the lines. The last 15 the only bit of action saw the Chelsea LB, Emerson, strike the upper right of the same post that Abraham did earlier in the half.
The second half started in the same vein as the first half ended, with neither team doing much of anything to force any sort of attacking verve. Then, the spaces that Chelsea enjoyed in the first half, they themselves began to open themselves up and United began to take advantage of it. A good piece of breaking up the play from Maguire allowed the Reds to break into space, with the ball ending up on the right side, Pereira delivering the ball into the six yard box for Martial to stick away. No more than 2 minutes went by before a throw in and quick exchange saw Pogba on the ball in space where he lofted a ball over the Chelsea defence, Rashford latching on and slotting past Kepa to make it 3. Chelsea continued pressing and the opportunities for United to break and score a fourth looked ever more likely, eventually happening. This time, down the left hand side, Pogba and Martial exchanged passes then Pogba broke free with the ball. As the Chelsea players caught up, Pogba checked back and slotted it past the defenders to Daniel James who, after an initial stutter, struck it and with the benefit of a deflection, it crept past Kepa into the bottom right hand corner. The last 10 minutes carried on with little much from either side and then Anthony Taylor drew proceedings to close after four additional minutes.
In the end, it mirrored a lot of what we saw in the first few games of Jose Mourinho’s Man Utd in 2017/18 when they continually scored 4, having a hard time of breaking down the opposition at first and then getting joy in transition with the quick players up top. The worry is the proficiency of breaking down teams who will sit a bit deeper, allowing us to have the ball, thus putting the emphasis on us to stretch them. All in all, the strengths and weaknesses of Ole’s Man Utd shone through in equal measures but luckily, Chelsea were not able to take advantage whilst the former did, making for a great start at Manchester United.
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