It is the most drawn fixture in Premier League history. It happened again today and a draw was probably a fair result in the end. However, the last 10 minutes of the game stood in contrast to the game that preceded it. Chances were few and fair between but when McTominay held onto Broja for too long on a corner, it gave Chelsea the chance to grab all three points. Jorginho put it to the right of De Gea and it looked like United would succumb to the Stamford Bridge hoodoo like it has done multiple times over the years. Up pops Casemiro with a magnificent header that the goal line technology had to confirm. It was pandemonium in the reduced away end, led by the crazy celebrations of the Brazilian. United may have got more, they may have got less but if there was a way to get just one point, this is the way to do it.
Capitalisation The Key Word
In games like these, when the opportunity presents itself whereby you have a grip of the game, you have the capitalise. On Wednesday night, when United went in a half time level, despite having the chances to be deservedly ahead, the fans would have been fearing the worst because Spurs have the potential to punch fatally, even when they are under the cosh. As it turns out, The Red Devils landed the heavy blows but in another match, that might not happen. Particularly as both goals came courtesy of lucky breaks in some sort of fashion.
Today, at Stamford Bridge, United were once again dominating. Less helter skelter but in a more controlled fashion. Eriksen coming in for Fred was probably symptomatic of the way in which Man Utd were progressing through midfield and pressing. There were less gambles and jumping ahead of your marker to go put pressure on the ball carrier and more sticking to the plan of the assigned marker when Chelsea tried to build from the back. The Blues had their outball in Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell but they were calculated risks from Ten Hag’s team as they were seen as the best players to have possession of the ball ahead of Chelsea’s back three. United were allowed easy possession in the first two thirds, which meant by the time in arrived in the final third, there should have been pace in the movement and passing. There was neither. Another consequence of the decision to bring in the Dane for the Brazilian.
When United did get into those positions, they had the usual problem that I have identified in the first few games of this season. There is a refusal to play that extra pass that could open things up in order to generate a high quality chance. Often, it is the pass from just in front of the D into the on rushing full back or the standing winger that can then potentially create an overload. The reason why is probably because in our two wingers, Sancho and Antony, they do not show great endeavour in going outside their opponent. Antony at least does try to play with gusto when he does do something whereas Sancho plays more carefully but right now, it just looks like trepidation. Even in the basic things, the ex-Dortmund man was extremely sloppy and he is doing himself no favour by playing as meekly as he does. Even with their drawbacks, teams have been shuffled and pulled across to keep them honest and to get gaps to open up whilst the team shuffles. United refusing to do so meant that as Chelsea, as pressured as they were, were not actually put under the offensive pressure that the approach play deserved.
In the end, outside of an Antony and Rashford chance, United did not create anything of note. An overall xG of 0.91 after that half showed the lack of impetus and incision that the attack carried. With the backdrop of the Cristano Ronaldo fiasco, this is the type of game and result that will only band together the furore that whole saga created.
Varane prone on the floor. For the second time of the season. The first was in that heavy defeat against our City rivals and it happened again today. This one seemed far more serious than the City game though. Not just for Man Utd’s fortunes but also for France. The French international was in tears and was unable to move for a long time.
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