Patient passing in the face of intense pressing from Manchester United is what Chelsea brought to Stamford Bridge in the initial minutes of their Premier League encounter today. Two minutes in and this all resulted in our first shot at goal by Hakim Ziyech, starting today as a right winger, followed by a great Callum Hudson-Odoi chance batted away by David de Gea.
The first few minutes also gave away Manchester United’s plan of trying to play as defensively as possible while keeping a fighting chance via counter. In some occasions you could see all of the Red Devils behind the line as Chelsea defenders and midfielders exchanged passes right in front of them at their half, with no challenge from the opposition.
With Chelsea not finding many spaces in the penalty box to infiltrate, it was time to try from range. Antonio Rüdiger heard the call from the stands and almost scored a peach of a long-distance goal, hitting the crossbar instead.
The Blues kept pressure on until the last minute of the first half, but they were either not precise with their shooting or getting blocked by De Gea. United did sniff around our defence a couple of times, but Édouard Mendy and our defence were more than capable of handling the threat.
Even with no goals in the first half, Thomas Tuchel decided not to make any changes to his starting lineup. Neither did Manchester United, with the plan to be as annoying as possible by employing the best time-wasting tactics they could from kickoff.
Then came the play the visitors were looking for from the get-go. A misplay by Jorginho but certainly not entirely at his fault, as he was left all by himself at the back during one of our offensive forays and gave the ball away to Jadon Sancho. The English attacker scored his second ever United goal to open the scoring today.
Having been successful in the quest for a lone goal, all left to United was protecting their lead. Chelsea did look quite sloppy trying to find the tying goal, but the Red Devils were just as bad defending the lead. So much so that a foul by Aaron Wan-Bissaka on Thiago Silva in a corner play gave Jorginho the chance to make amends by scoring from the spot kick, which he promptly did.
Now United had again to come out of their shell. Helped by the still unusually sloppy play by Chelsea, they were capable of being dangerous beyond counters on a few occasions.
The match was still Chelsea’s to win. Tuchel tried to elevate our offensive play by bringing Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku to the pitch, but that was not enough to get us the winning score.
- Thomas Tuchel decides to hand starts to both Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, slotting a natural striker instead of continuing with the “false-nine” experiment.
- Subs are: Mason Mount for Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic for Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Romelu Lukaku for Timo Werner.
- Tortoise tactics, brought to you by Manchester United.
- Ridiculous refereeing from Anthony Taylor was expected — and not even worth a mention before the match. And he was up to par today, letting fouls roll like crazy.
- Next up: Watford at Vicarage Road in the Premier League.