Manchester United returned to Old Trafford on Wednesday night after disappointing trips to Istanbul and Newcastle and got back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Chelsea.
On the back of underwhelming results against Galatasaray and Newcastle, Erik ten Hag’s week started with suggestions of players losing trust in his methods at Carrington. The manager pushed back on such claims on Tuesday, and nearly 24 hours later, his players backed his words by showing they are all together and still willing to fight for the man at the helm.
Such was United’s performance from the get-go that the 2-1 scoreline flattered Chelsea, who struggled to match the hosts’ intensity and were second best in all departments. Bar one or two players, every individual in red stepped up. Still, here’s a look at three players who were simply brilliant.
The very obvious name in the list. The Scot made sure United capitalized on their bright start by smashing the ball past Robert Sanchez after Chelsea’s backline failed to clear the ball out of their area following a United corner.
His second goal was even better, as he made a smart run into the box to meet Alejandro Garnacho’s cross and head home the winning goal in the 69th minute after Cole Palmer had levelled the scoreline before half-time. McTominay could’ve had a hat-trick, as he also forced a double save from Sanchez in the 32nd minute after getting on the end of a Bruno Fernandes cross.
The Scotland international’s regular appearances in Chelsea’s penalty area did leave United’s midfield vulnerable at times but that is the risk Ten Hag is clearly willing to take in search of more goals from his midfield man.
The Moroccan midfield engine finally showed by Ten Hag was so keen to reunite with him. With McTominay higher up the pitch, Amrabat manned the midfield on his own for the best part of 90 minutes, cutting out multiple attempts from Chelsea to catch United on the break.
With 92% pass accuracy, 11 ball recoveries, and a 100% tackle success rate, Amrabat seamlessly dealt with everything Chelsea’s expensive midfield pairing of Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo threw at him.
The Englishman continues to go strength to strength after a difficult maiden term under Ten Hag. Having firmly established himself as United’s best centre-back this season, Maguire once again let his football do the talking and kept Chelsea attackers quiet for large periods of the game.
He made some important interventions by stepping up into the midfield and carried the ball from deep to great effect. In one instance, Maguire received the ball on the half-turn before driving forward and finding Sergio Reguilon in the final third. The Spaniard quickly passed the ball to Garnacho, whose cross found McTominay for the second goal.
All in all, Maguire showed there’s a lot more to playing in a high line than just pace with his positional awareness, well-timed tackle, and progressive play.