Manchester United missed Michael Carrick. His injury meant everything changed for Man United. Wayne Rooney had to drop into midfield and Radamel Falcao had to go up front, neither player was effective at all.
Rooney had been in red hot form up front but he simply isn’t a central midfielder. As for Falcao, well, we discuss him in a separate point.
Today was always going to be a tough game for United but it was made harder with a quadruple injury blow and Chelsea played out a tactical game in which a scrappy 1-0 win was exactly what they were looking for.
Welcome back Luke Shaw. The 19-year-old was in the press this week after it was suggested he was psychologically and physically struggling with being a Manchester United player but his performance against Chelsea suggests that is far removed from the truth.
He was superb on the left flank and gave Branislav Ivanovic a headache all afternoon. His pace was blistering on the overlap an he was by far and away Man United’s most dangerous player on the day.
After Daley Blind‘s recent performances at left-back, fans questioned whether Shaw would be able to force his way back into the team but he took advantage of an opportunity today, so well done to him.
Radamel Falcao fails to take advantage of his opportunity. Not even a ponytail could change Falcao’s fortunes as the Colombian was once again ineffective.
Wayne Rooney had been Man United’s focal point in attack during the six game winning streak but Falcao was unable to replicate Rooney’s form. One frustrating aspect was the fact he was so poor at holding the play up because Falcao is a powerful striker yet Chelsea were easily able to push him off the ball.
In the story of whether United will sign Falcao permanently in the summer, today’s performance was another reason to justify Louis van Gaal turning down the chance.
Paddy McNair was excellent. When he came in against West Ham and Everton earlier this season, McNair played very well but poor performances away against Arsenal and Southampton raised doubts over whether he was ready for the first-team.
Today against Chelsea and Didier Drogba, McNair earned some more stripes. It wasn’t just his defending either as going forward he looked very confident. There won’t have been many players on the pitch who had more shots than McNair which was indicative of his attack minded performance.
Chelsea played like champions. It’s always the mark of champions to win when you aren’t the better team and that’s exactly what Chelsea did today. Sir Alex made it a hallmark of his teams and Jose Mourinho knows exactly how to grind out a result.
Overall, United played the better football but Chelsea came away with the three points which, ultimately, is the aim.