Maurizio Sarri may not know how to get his football working at Chelsea, but our opponents sure seem to know how to exploit it anyway.
That’s the word from Ander Herrera, not exactly a powerhouse attacking midfielder these days (unlike at the start of his United career), who opened the scoring last night after given the freedom of Stamford Bridge to make the far post run from midfield without anyone laying so much as a breath on him.
“We knew how to play them. I played today a more offensive role because we knew they struggle in that side of the pitch. But I think [it was a] fantastic game. When you play with these kind of players you can make that type of run and you know you’re going to get the ball.”
-Ander Herrera; source: BBC via Metro
Granted, Pogba’s delivery was inch perfect, and Chelsea’s right side did not exactly cover themselves in glory either (Rüdiger(!) facing a 2-v-1 out wide(!) with no help allowed Pogba all the time to cross after cutting back while the full back made the overlapping run), but Herrera was literally in acres of space that one might not find at a peewee match, let alone a top flight professional contest.
Look at this image. Alonso has to be worried about Rashford. Herrera’s run is a killer because no one from Chelsea’s midfield tracks him OR wins the ball before it finds Pogba #cfc https://t.co/mtQluGLfTT— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) February 18, 2019
Step 1: Have a solid plan
Step 2: Execute it well
Step 3: Profit
Manchester United's first goal against Chelsea: Rashford drags Alonso to the middle, Herrera saw the free space and Pogba made a perfect cross to the Spanish midfielder to score #FACup #CHEMUN pic.twitter.com/2X2IrpHsoZ— Last Row (@lastrowview) February 18, 2019
Even more so than the specifics, United had a plan and a plan specifically tailored to taking advantage of a weakness they saw in Chelsea’s (never-changing) tactics.
It’s not unusual for elite coaches to have one way of playing, or at least one guiding set of principles for their teams.— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) February 18, 2019
But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a top-level coach so blindly wedded, in every situation, to one formation #cfc
Meanwhile, at Chelsea, we’re doing all the things to make sure Sarri-ball continues to be an increasingly spectacular failure.