Chris Smalling has expressed his frustration following Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
Jose Mourinho’s men started the game brightly, with Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku going close, but their lack of options in midfield began to tell as the game went on.
And eventually Chelsea’s dominance paid dividends in the second half through a mixture of poor positioning and a well taken Alvaro Morata header which prompted Man United into launching a late unsuccessful onslaught on the champions’ goal.
Speaking to MUTV after the game, Smalling bemoaned his side’s brain-freeze in front of goal at Stamford Bridge.
“The result is frustrating because we put in so much effort and I think we controlled large parts of the game,” he said.
“We put them on the back foot in the first half, we just needed to take one of the chances when we had the momentum. We also put Chelsea under some pressure in the last twenty minutes and I thought we deserved a goal.
“It’s unfortunate there’s now an international break but I think we’ll have to regroup and in our next game make sure we put on a performance to rectify this. I think it’s about us getting back to Old Trafford for that game and put on a performance that the fans can be proud of.”
United dominated the first and last 15 minutes, creating a decent number of chances in the process, but never really made you feel as if they would emerge victorious at Stamford Bridge.
The pulse of the game was governed by Chelsea and their excellent midfield trio of Cesc Fabregas, Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante. For one thing, they look like a completely different side with the latter, who spent October on the sidelines, back in the side and diligently snuffing out opponents at every turn, like some sort of inexplicable automaton.
But Chelsea’s midfield dominated in all sectors: quicker, more fluid in possession, adept at playing through the lines, and ultimately the more innovative. This was another example of Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic, despite their dedication to the cause, not having enough vitality as a pair to trouble the best sides in the Premier League.
Mourinho will just pray that he has a more diverse range of midfield options to call upon following the international break.