Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Review on Manchester United performance V/S Chelsea, 0-1, 18 April 2015”

My only feeling about superstition is that it's unlucky to be behind at the end of the game." Duffy Daugherty.

Chelsea XI: Courtois, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Matic, Oscar, Fabregas, Hazard, Drogba. Chelsea subs: Cech, Luis, Cuadrado, Solanke, Mikel, Ramires, Willian.

United XI: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, McNair, Shaw, Rooney, Mata, Ander Herrera, Fellaini, Young, Falcao. United subs: Da Silva, Van Persie, Valdes, Pereira, Blackett, Januzaj, Di Maria.

Even if Manchester United do not deserves to be a champion for this season but they did not deserved to lose the match. Even a draw won't suffice the performance of resurgent United against a much disciplined Chelsea defense. No offense to Mourinho tactics but his message was very clear to his two center backs, John Terry and Cahill, which is to stop United from poaching the area around Courtois. These two center backs literally never left their position for the entire 90 minutes of the match. It’s true that 80 percent of ball possession doesn’t win you a match unless a team score a goal and unfortunately it was the case for United. It was really frustrating to watch the match because right from the start, United’s intensity to attack Chelsea was very obvious whereas Chelsea was relying on counter attack clearly.

The first half from United was absolute brilliant in term ball possession and passing. Into the 8th minutes of the match, I thought Rooney has scored from Luke Shaw cross after a wonderful run from the left flank. That was a clear chance for United to take the lead. In case, if Rooney had scored, it could have initiated a change of tactic from Chelsea and will be force to drag their players out of position in order to level score. But once Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scored the only goal of the match in the 38th minutes (Score: 0-1), it was enough for Mourinho to execute his ultimate defensive tactics in order to win the match. The build up to Hazard goal is not without controversy as Falcao was fouled by John Terry in winning the ball. But then, the referee see it other way and the benefits of doubt seemed to be in favor of Chelsea.

Fellaini did help the team in creating space for Rooney and Herrera by drawing Chelsea’s Zouma and Ivanovic. I believe that was the major contribution to the team from his end. Anyway, he played well except he did not get a chance for aerial duel inside Chelsea’s box. I’m sure Van Gaal will continue to start him for the remaining 5 matches. After all, it takes two players to mark Fellaini and a much disciplined defense to stop him from scoring. And Chelsea’s players definitely executed their plan in stopping Fellaini despite his strong resistance to make a major impact in the match.

McNair and Smalling also played well as center backs. Although McNair was more comfortable foraying into Chelsea area and he managed two shots on target. Huge credit to Van Gaal for trusting the upcoming players from academy like McNair, Blackett and Perreira. Smalling is also improving but he needs to start playing some bold direct passes to strikers. Clearly, he had no idea about Falcao position during the match. Valencia, I just wish if his left foot is mobile as his right foot. Despite his consistency as a fullback, his cross needs to improve in order to have more impact in big match like former United player Gary Neville used to be from the same position. Luke Shaw will only keep on improving as his talent was the reason United signed him at the first place. He had a good game and I hope he cements his position in the starting eleven sooner. It will benefit the club as well as his teammates if he consistently play and manage to stay fit.

Rooney playing as midfield gives balance to the team in Carrick absence. However, Rooney playing as a midfielder also has a drawback for the team, i.e. his ability to score from striker position. He was very mobile right from the start and his passing was efficient throughout the match. But I would always prefer Rooney scoring goal as a striker than a box to box midfielder. His abilities to be able to play in any position is a blessing for a manager but I rather see Rooney as striker playing upfront and causing ll sort of threats to opposition defenders.

Juan Mata reception from the Chelsea fans was admirable and he truly deserved the standing ovation when he was substituted in the 70th minutes. It was quiet day from him and some of the corners he took were wasteful. Maybe, he was overwhelmed by the Chelsea fans reception. Angel Di Maria who eventually replaced Mata was also unable to up the tempo of the match with his pace and skills. Anyway, it is good Manchester United spot in next season Champion’s League is almost sealed. Ander Herrera is definitely proving in every matches and cementing his place in the starting line-up. Sorry to mention about his diving in the last minute of the match although it was an attempt to win the match at any cost. Obviously, the DNA of United is all about winning but I hope he rather commits a professional foul on opposition player who has a clear shot on goal. Anyway, his dedication and passing in the match are not to be left out just because he dived.

Ashley Young had a decent match although his attempt to create chance was minimal which definitely had an impact with Falcao performance. Falcao started the match but with only three attempted shots on target throughout the match. The first shot was deflected by Cahill and the second shot with his left foot hitting the bar instead. And lastly, his left foot shot on target from Fellaini cross was brilliantly blocked by Cahill. At the end of the day, the striker score goal with assist from either side of the width area or from middle. Unfortunately, even though the team played well, Chelsea defended too well.

Van Gaal formation of 4-1-4-1 undoubtedly created problems for Chelsea but once they took the lead, they park a double decked bus in front their goalkeeper. Tactically, the formation used by Van Gaal was an absolute remedy to Mourinho defensive style. In the end, United was defeated and the 3 points is all that matters to Mourinho.

For the team performance, I’ll rate 3 out of 5. The next upcoming match for Manchester United is on 26 April 2015 against Everton. The match will start at 06:00 PM (IST).

Thank you.

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