It’s 2-0 to Manchester United at the full-time whistle against Chelsea, and the FA Cup now has the look of an attainable hope for the Red Devils. First half goals from Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba proved enough to deflate the Blues, who were brilliantly outdone by the visiting side.
This game could have a host of ripples for both sides, not all of them good:
1. Mata Pockets Jorginho Again
Juan Mata was in sublime form on the night, deployed centrally rather than down the wing. However, his most crucial role will have arrived through the positional play he kept, specifically in shadowing Jorginho.
This is the second time this season that the Spaniard has been incredible at the pocketing task. It is particularly ironic given that the regista role that Jorginho is supposedly the ace at was choked entirely. Nearly all of Chelsea’s other woes stemmed from this fact.
Mata may still have a regular role to play in this Manchester United squad, and the fact that he was applauded by the entirety of the stadium speaks volumes.
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2. Sarri Sacked?
Predictable, boring, and utterly, utterly stubborn, Sarri may not last for long. The poor form at Chelsea has been evident in the past 15 games. However, it was the battering against Manchester City that ought to have set the warning bells going.
In any serious style of play, Chelsea ought to have approached this game all-guns-blazing and intent on winning. Instead, the Sarri-ball seemed thoroughly deflated, and the boos echoing across the stadium ought to be worrying for the gaffer, particularly those that supported his sacking.
In fact, bringing on two defensive substitutes after your team hasn’t been good enough to secure a shot on target since the 11th minute does seem a far cry from tactical genius.
3. Ole’s At the Wheel
This is an incredible victory for Solskjaer, and a necessary one given the PSG loss from last week. In many ways, United played their best game of the season, but it is easy to see the victory as an easy one.
Going into the game, however, assured qualification wasn’t evident, particularly since Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, two players that the Norwegian is incredibly reliant upon, weren’t present to make an impact at the Bridge.
The murmurs have been strong about the club legend bagging the job on a full-time basis, and after this victory, a morning announcement may not be the wildest of calls to make.
4. London Bridge Has Fallen Down
It took Sir Alex Ferguson’s antics all the way back in 2012 for Manchester United to last emerge victorious at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have troubled the Red Devils quite persistently at home since, and the past five times FA Cup encounters between the two teams have always gone the London way.
However, with this victory, the curse is broken, and the Bridge was conquered by both the United players as well as the fans, who were jubilant in their support.
Both of the so-called London giants were thrashed enroute this FA Cup campaign, and with the Wolves being the next away trip, Solskjaer’s agenda for silverware certainly looks promising.
5. Tactical Class From United
While it is easy to see the victory as a result of Chelsea playing poorly and Sarri being stubborn, the tactical brilliance of United needs to be lauded.
They achieved a majority of the frustration caused to the home side by overcrowding the box, leaving little for the defense to do. Further, by isolating defenders in the box for crosses, an extra element of threat was added.
With Rashford’s pacey runs clearing space for Herrera, and Mata’s runs from the middle setting-up Pogba, Chelsea were thoroughly outmanned. When not attacking, United fell back quite impressively and succeeded at suffocating the home side centrally.
All in all, they frustrated Chelsea and the victory followed suit, especially since Sarri didn’t change their shape at all.