It could have been all three if not for a rash swing of the boot from Wan Bissaka that gave Chelsea a penalty. In the first half, apart from a stupid shot from Bruno Fernandes and a poor touch from Sancho, United seldom created little in the final third. Hudson-Odoi came close in the first three minutes and Rudiger rattling the bar was even closer. United went into the lead after just 5 mins in the second half as they capitalised on a poor touch from Jorginho. With Sancho bearing down on goal, he calmly slotted the ball past Mendy and wheeled away to celebrate with the fans. United dealt with a lot of corners and all but one of them, very admirably. The one they didn’t was that one that Wan Bissaka swung his foot into Thiago Silva that gave Jorginho the chance to make up for his mistake, which he did in his usual fashion. The RB would make up for it somewhat by blocking a certain chance from Werner and Rudiger’s blasted another over the bar in the dying embers. In the end, the points were shared.
Much of the talk since it emerged that Rangnick was going to be the new interim manager has been about the press. It was the talk of the town with us now having Ronaldo as a focal point and as he is, he would never provide the first line. Today, when you saw the line up, without the Portuguese man in the XI at all, it was clear the work off the ball was going to be integral against a Chelsea team has been flying in the league, having only dropped points of 3 occasions before today. The first 90 seconds from kick off saw an intense press from the front three of Sancho, Bruno and Rashford but for the rest of that first half, there was little of it.
It was more reminiscent of a performance from Solskjaer where the pressure was very much on the back line to complete a lot of actions because the team was sitting in, waiting to spring a counter with the pace down the sides. The problem was that the team was unable to play through the press of Chelsea. Matic, usually the most composed deep midfielder when pressurised, was unable to find his groove and you know when the pressure is that intense, it is unlikely you will see anything from the McFred duo. What is worse, the front three were extremely lax in their hold up play. Sancho and Rashford were guilty of poor touches and passes that meant the Blues were able to build attack after attack. Bruno Fernandes continued in his usual fashion of picking the most curious and audacious decision when a simpler one might have opened up a clearer opportunity further down the line. Funnily enough, it was the convergence press on Jorginho that bore fruit for Sancho’s goal. It was the anticipation of both the goal-scorer and Rashford, something the latter was seldom doing in the first half. If that is a sign of things to come, then hopefully the approach of sitting and soaking in will be a thing of the past.
Good Shift from the Makeshifts
Going into the game, the one area of weakness was Man Utd’s defence. Varane has suffered from two injuries already in his few months here. Maguire and Shaw have just been incredibly horrible, no matter the fatigue in their legs or head. All three were out for this, the former through suspension and latter with a concussion. So it meant Lindelof, Bailly and Telles would deputise. All three would have their hairy moments in the opening minutes but with the minutes ticking past, they all grew into the game defensively. Bailly and Lindelof were constantly dealing with crosses and balls into the box. Telles was facing James down that right side, who has been in electric form, and for everything we all thought before the game, it wasn’t the one sided affair that we all envisaged prior to kick off. In effect, you could see the rust in all three but the positioning of Matic and McTominay, particularly in the second half, stationed themselves in the pockets so that Telles could push out onto the emerging runner down Chelsea’s right and Bailly could keep himself centrally to pick up inward runs. The same with Lindelof and McTominay, the latter picking up a man of the match award from Sky Sports.