Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea FC Match Report

Starting Line-up: Mendy; Zouma, Silva, Azpilicueta (C); Chilwell, Jorginho, Kanté, James; Pulišić (Out 81’), Werner (Out 71’), Havertz (Out 71’)

Subs: Caballero, Rüdiger, Ziyech (In 81’), Mount (In 71’), Kovačić, Abraham (In 71’), Giroud

First Half

Chelsea came into this game with a different formation to the one they used against Sevilla, Lampard switched to a 3 at the back system in anticipation of Manchester United doing the same. The home side started the game off pressing high using Juan Mata to come central and support Bruno Fernandes in blocking the passing option into Jorginho and Kanté. Rashford would block the option to the closest CB (In this case Thiago Silva) and Daniel James was blocking the wide option in Reece James.

Image credit: via SuperSport3

Chelsea settled into the game quickly, Zouma and Azpilicueta went wider out to give more space to Thiago Silva when on the ball. This allowed Reece James and Ben Chilwell to push further up the field and force the United full backs to drop back. United continued to press central, focusing on stopping Jorginho and Kanté getting on the ball, this meant Ben Chilwell and Reece James were always free to receive the ball.

Image Credit: via SuperSport3

5 minutes in Pulišić was able to show his pace after he received the ball on the half turn and set off to get into the United box however he was surrounded by defenders with no support and lost the ball to Aaron Wan-Bissaka. When Chelsea were out of possession, they were being attacked down the wings with Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James as the wide players and Bruno Fernandes and Juan Mata as the central passing options. Bruno Fernandes’ passing was a threat early on as he almost played Luke Shaw in behind with an accurate pass but Azpilicueta was quick to come over and clear the ball out.

The home side started to drop off and it meant that the midfield was starting to open up which was leaving space for Jorginho and Kanté to get into and receive the ball of the centre backs.

Image Credit: via SuperSport3

When Chelsea were pressing, Havertz and Pulišić would stay centrally blocking the pass into the midfielders with Ben Chilwell and Reece James in charge of pressing the United full backs. When Chelsea got in the final third Pulišić and Havertz drifted central with Reece James and Ben Chilwell holding the width for Chelsea. The 3 central forwards were rotating between each other to try and move the United defence and open space to play/run into. Luke Shaw was struggling to handle Havertz as when he marked him he would be leaving Reece James wide unmarked.

The first real opportunity Chelsea had to unleash the speed of Timo Werner was when Kai Havertz received the ball in a central area and tried to play Werner through into the left half space but he was not able to get the ball under control and it went out for a goal kick. A few minutes later Chelsea then had a free kick in a good position for a Reece James cross but he opted for the difficult option and to go for goal but it was easily caught by David De Gea. As Havertz and Pulišić were in central areas when pressing, it meant when United switched the ball that Reece James and Ben Chilwell were being overloaded by the full back and the winger (Below it is Luke Shaw and Daniel James)

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Just before the half hour mark, Mendy received the ball on the left side of the 6 yard box and had a lapse in concentration while making a pass to the defender to his right as he almost put the ball into his own net. A few minutes later Pulišić showed his brilliant ball control and speed once again as he cut onto his right foot and got a shot off which he should have done better with, after it was caught with ease by the United goalkeeper. A minute later the American had yet another shot on the edge of the box which went just slightly wide and Pulišić was looking much better than he did midweek.

Chelsea then kept a lot of the possession with their central players, unable to set the forwards off in behind and this led to a mistake from Jorginho which the home side punced on, Juan Mata received the ball and with a first time pass played Marcus Rashford through on goal. He was able to get to the edge of the box before getting his shot off which was saved by the feet of Mendy and Chelsea had got away with it.

On the 39th minute mark, Chelsea had strong claims for a penalty when the ball was crossed into the box and Harry Maguire seemed to hold down Azpilicueta with both arms. The referee played on and VAR also decided there was no foul play. United then countered and Marcus Rashford got into the box and played the ball to Juan Mata who got the shot off on the edge of the box but Mendy made another good save at his near post. There was a quick VAR check for a kick from Silva on Rashford but there wasn’t enough in it for VAR to award a penalty.

Second Half

United got in behind the Chelsea back line early on, with Daniel James in a 1v1 with Azpilicueta on the edge of the box but the defender read it well and was able to block the Welshman from cutting in on his right foot. Chelsea then did well to work the ball into the United box after good linkup play betweem Pulišić and Werner and the German found himself in the box 1v1 with Maguire but Maguire was able to block the left footed shot from the German.

United brought on new boy Edinson Cavani in the 57th minute and he almost made an instant impact, making a run across his defender and getting a touch on the cross which was inches away from the post. Chelsea then came close a few minutes later with Azpilicueta picking the ball up in a central area and playing it out wide to Reece James who played in a perfect cross. Kai Havertz got a slight touch on the ball and this deflected the ball inches away from Pulišić who was racing in at the back post.

Chelsea were now playing a bit deeper and were looking to counter and use the pace of Pulišić and Werner and they almost got through on goal when Kai Havertz set Timo Werner off with a ball in behind however the German was not able to spot the run of Pulišić who was unmarked on the opposite side of the box.

Image Credit: via SuperSport3

The home side were clearly targeting Azpilicueta and his lack of pace by trying to get Marcus Rashford in behind him and in the 70th minute it almost worked after Rashford ran into the Chelsea box and managed to get the ball onto his right foot but the Chelsea captain did well to block it.

Lampard made his first changes in the 70th minute where he brought on Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount for Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. Despite this, it was the United substitute who was having a bigger effect on the game, with Paul Pogba dictating the play in the midfield. Receiving the ball off of the defenders and then getting the ball up the pitch and joining in with the attacks. The Chelsea midfield was struggling to handle the skill and physicality of Paul Pogba and it led to the home side being able to play through the Chelsea shape with ease.

The second half continued with both sides trying to create a clear cut opportunity but neither team was able to produce that final ball to open up the defence. It was definitley a drop off from the first half by both sides. The next real opportunity for a goal came in the 87th minute from Manchester United after Edinson Cavani made a run to the front post to get on the end of a low cross from Mason Greenwood but the run was well matched by Thiago Silva and the Brazilian was able to block the shot.

In the last 10 minutes Chelsea started to sit deep and were trying to make it difficult for the home side to find any space. Bruno and Pogba especially were faced with a sea of blue shirts and the aim for Lampard now was to finish with a clean sheet. This was almost ruined after Marcus Rashford released a venemous shot first time from the edge of the box and it was curling into the far corner but Mendy got across to save it superbly and parry it out.

Next Game

Chelsea travel to Krasnodar in the UEFA Champions League. Chelsea go into the game obvious favourites but it will also be a chance for Lampard to play the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi alongisde some other players who have not played many minutes this season.

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