Manchester United started the new season in style today, defeating top six rivals Chelsea 4-0 in Frank Lampard’s managerial debut. New signings Maguire and Wan-Bissaka ensured United kept a clean sheet while Dan James, also a recent acquisition, was on the score sheet.
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Chelsea began the game well, looking sharper than United and creating good opportunities. Tammy Abraham was the first to get a clear cut chance, hitting the bar. United were being overrun. Against the run of play, Solskjaer’s men managed to strike first, Marcus Rashford winning and converting a penalty after Kurt Zouma naively and rashly sent the English attacker to the ground.
Emerson Palmieri hit the bar shortly after that and the left back was probably Chelsea’s best player of the day. United were lucky to be leading by one at half-time.
In the second half, United unsurprisingly focused on defending better and playing on the counter. Anthony Martial got the second goal after a blistering fast attack, where Rashford carried the ball from his own half forward, going through Lingard and then Pereira who did well to put in a magnificent cross. Martial intelligently placed himself in front of Azpilicueta to tap it in.
Azpilicueta’s right flank was a major problem for Chelsea, with United’s most dangerous actions coming from there.
A few minutes after Martial’s goal, Rashford scored again to make 3-0 at the 67th minute. By then Chelsea were a spent force. Young Welsh winger Daniel James came on from the bench to make it four.
While many United fans have criticized United’s transfer window, it’s clear that all three signings Woodward delivered are top notch and Solskjaer is right in relying on Martial and Rashford who are so much better technically and faster than Lukaku. United should also be commended for keeping hold of Pogba (2 assists) and De Gea (multiple saves).
Not everything was rosy for United of course. They gave up too much space and were sloppy in possession but it’s nothing they cannot improve. The next game at Wolves, United’s “bete noir”, will definitely be more challenging than this.
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United will go in the game with a lot of confidence, especially after Harry Maguire’s Man of the Match performance today. The English center back was rock solid and did not balk under the pressure an Old Trafford debut can be. He reminded fans of Jaap Stam today, making his physical presence felt and also leading from the back.
As for Chelsea, they were handicapped by a transfer ban in the summer but it’s no excuse. There were too many unforced errors today. With Kante, Willian and Rudiger back and once Pulisic settles in, they will be a force to reckon with. The style of play is certainly there.