A first half which pretty much showed why both sets of fan bases have been complaining about their management since the beginning of the season. Outside of two Mendy saves, courtesy of Rashford and Mata respectively, it went pretty much without any significant event. Unfortunately, the second half followed that same pattern with a Rashford shot at the end being the best thing the Red Devils could muster up
A different way to skin the cat
The performance vs PSG mirrored much of what was done in the same fixture that secured Ole the job – micro-managed magnificently, slowing down the Parisians and playing to our strengths of counter attacking. Chelsea are a very different team however. Tuanzebe Martial and Telles came out for Mata, Maguire and James. The first 57 minutes were very similar to what we saw last season while Martial and Pogba were injured. Fred and Mctominay are very good at disrupting play, filling in spaces and blocking lanes when we concede space and possession. On the ball, they are better when they are able to play into space rather than having to produce moments of ingenuity to break through defensive rearguards. Today, it was never going to the Blues coming onto us and constantly leaving space for us to counter into so their selection, as a duo, left us to bland in the middle of the pitch. Since the Spurs game, Ole has been employing a tactic of staying in games until he can bring the quality off the bench to exploit the tired players. It worked well in the Newcastle and PSG games but they are in the opposite ends of the spectrum. Chelsea, although closer to PSG in that ability spectrum, are in the middle where our magic is imperative in being employed. Pogba’s performance in this fixture last season left much to be desired in his general play but it was his two assists that took the game away from Chelsea to garner that comfortable win.
Game in a headlock
Poor would be giving too much respect to the attacking performance of both teams but still, having been in the news for all the wrong reasons, on and off the pitch, the performance from the captain today was more steady than what has been usual these past few months. Maguire was proactive when high balls were played into his vicinity, perhaps too much so on a set piece where he had Azpilicueta in a wrestling hold, and covered well when the ball came in from the opposite side. Given, there wasn’t much for him to do and maybe the sheer quantity of situations he had to deal with, as teams constantly bypassed our weak disorganised press, exposed his capabilities of dealing with more progressive defending. He was actually outshone by his partner, Lindelof, but such has been the English CB’s poor season that him just being okay against good opposition was something to comment upon
Supply Line Dry
Rashford’s performance vs Newcastle and then the winner vs PSG made me question whether it would be better served having him through the middle than Martial, the Frenchman being very off colour in performance this season. But as alluded to earlier, both teams played into our hands in contrasting ways. Today, with Chelsea’s 3ATB, it was much more difficult for the Englishmen, as the channels he usually pulls into where covered by an opposition man standing in that space. We were not able to get the ball to stick in the final third and it was a very listless performance in that regard but it was hardly to do with the number 10 because even as the new number 7, Edinson Cavani, found it increasingly difficult to find spaces as the ball was moved far too slowly and his runs ignored for the most part, barring two chances at the bar post. A problem that continues whatever the personnel up top points to a problem behind them rather than who is in that spot.