Manchester United may have won the previous three matches against Chelsea this season, but in the FA Cup semifinal it was all about the Blues. Frank Lampard’s side simply outclassed the Red Devils, beating them 3-1 at Wembley, to reach the final showdown in a re-run of the last year’s Europa League final. Arsenal are waiting for them. The goals came through Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount, before Harry Maguire’s own goal confirmed Chelsea’s victory. Bruno Fernandes’ late penalty did not help much.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side was far from being up for the task today and there will be many things to analyse in the next few days – or even weeks – about the performance that has seen United get out of one of their two fights for silverware. Here is what we learned from this beating.
Solskjaer Makes Changes That Provide More Questions Than Answers
Solskjaer’s changes in the starting lineup were there to create more questions than answers and some of those questions are still not answered. The manager opted for a 3-4-1-2 formation, which was a sign of both respect and eagerness to freshen up the squad. He changed the system to try and negate Chelsea, but also kept Paul Pogba out of the starting XI, probably to keep him 100 per cent ready for the final two Premier League rounds which will see Devils fight for the Champions League.
It backfired, with the back three (or back five, if you will) being far from the necessary levels. Was Solskjaer ready to risk losing the chance to reach the final? If that is the case, then maybe United have changed their outlook on importance of certain competitions…
De Gea Mistakes Keep Mounting
David De Gea’s form has been the big talk at Old Trafford in recent months and it will continue to grow after this game. The Spaniard could have and should have done better in that situation for the first goal and then made a shambolic mistake for Chelsea’s second. This game will only strengthen the case of those who believe United should let De Gea go in the summer and give the chance to Dean Henderson.
Whatever might happen in this regard, De Gea’s 2019-20 could be described as appalling, despite certain matches where he shined.
Bailly Is Unlucky, But United Cannot Rely On Him Long-Term
Eric Bailly has shown he is a talented centre-back who was on the up when he signed from Villarreal, but ever since then, he never really had a season without injuries and last two seasons have been so injury-ridden that none of them could be properly analysed. Today, a head injury looked really bad and he had to be put on the strechers.
Simply put, Bailly has had an awful run of injuries and he might be a really good player when fit and with a run of matches in the side. Still, it seems he is just not the player United could rely upon in the long run.
More Defensive Mistakes
We mentioned mistakes from De Gea, but those were not the only ones. The first goal came from a poor defending positioning from the centre-backs, who had let Giroud come in between them to flick the ball in. For the second goal, no player thought it might be a good idea to try and block Mason Mount’s long range shot. And for the third goal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was so out of position that no amount of running could have prevented Marcos Alonso from whipping a low cross in, from which Harry Maguire unfortunately put it into his own net.