How Manchester United thrashed Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford
Manchester United battered Chelsea 4-0 to race off the Premier League blocks at Old Trafford on Sunday. Marcus Rashford scored a brace, while Anthony Martial and substitute Daniel James also got into the act as Chelsea capitulated in Frank Lampard’s first match in charge.
Though the scoreline was a flattering one for the hosts, the Red Devils turned in an accomplished display, sending a statement of intent to their top-six rivals.
The build-up to the game
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United ended the previous season woefully, finishing sixth in the table and missing out on Champions League football in the process.
After the summer rebuild not happening in the perfect manner, Solskjaer welcomed three new faces in Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire.
Chelsea, meanwhile, were beginning a new era under Frank Lampard, who had failed to sign any players in the summer due to the club’s transfer ban. Nevertheless, Lampard expected his young team to fly out of the traps and lay down a marker.
Manchester United went into the game against Chelsea with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Solskjaer fielding Anthony Martial as the lone man up front, with Jesse Lingard in the No.10 role.
Andreas Pereira and Marcus Rashford provided the width on either flank, while the likes of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay formed the midfield pivot. David de Gea started in goal with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw at the back.
Chelsea also started with the same formation, with Lampard fielding an attacking line-up which consisted of the likes of Tammy Abraham, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and Pedro as front four.
Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic protected the back four which comprised of the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Emerson Palmieri. Kepa started in goal for the visitors.
Both teams looked to play out from the back but Chelsea’s passing looked more crisp and efficient, and this allowed them to control possession in the opening stages.
This approach prompted the likes of Abraham, Pedro, Mount and Barkley to press higher up the pitch and disrupt the passing rhythm of United’s defenders.
Although the plan worked to a certain extent, the Blues’ lack of clinical finishing came back to haunt them. United, on the other hand, relentlessly pressed to stop Chelsea’s passing lanes but they failed to execute it to perfection.
But as the game settled, the hosts’ pressing in the final third paid off. In fact, things got worse for Lampard’s side when they went 1-0 behind and chased the game in the second half.
When the likes of Abraham, Pedro, Mount and Barkley pressed, Chelsea left too much room between the lines for the likes of Rashford, Martial and Lingard to exploit.
The visiting sides’ full-backs, Cesar Azpilicueta and Emerson Palmieri, also pressed higher up the pitch, leaving acres of spaces behind them, which central midfielders Jorginho and Kovacic failed to cover.
With pacey forwards in the ranks, it became easier for United to counter and create 1vs1 and 2vs2 situations in the attacking third. And the game was dead and buried when the hosts scored twice inside two minutes in the second half.
As it happened
United were very lucky to strike first, thanks to Chelsea’s lack of clinical finishing. They took the lead in the 18th minute with a turnover in the middle of the pitch and a quick transition. Rashford eventually won a penalty and converted it without fuss.
Chelsea should have at least scored once by this point but they hit the woodwork twice through Abraham and Emerson.
The second half started in the same vein as the first half ended, with both the teams applying a bit of caution to their approach. Emerson tested De Gea with a powerful left-footed drive from just inside the box but the Spaniard smartly kept it out.
Just like the first-half, Lampard’s side had their moments to equalise but just failed to find the end product.
Chelsea gradually began to open up in the second half and United took full advantage of it. A counter-attack started from Maguire and ended up with Anthony Martial, who scored with aplomb.
Ninety five seconds later, the hosts scored again to kill the game, with Pogba showing his fabulous passing ability by floating the ball from inside his own half for Rashford to run onto and bury the ball into the back of the net.
To round off an overwhelming positive opener, new signing Daniel James entered the fray in the 74th minute and seven minutes later, scored with the benefit of a deflection to complete the demolition.