The main focus of gameweek one in the Premier League was bound to be on Manchester United versus Chelsea, especially when the other top teams in the league had won their respective games. Given that the final positions in the table always come down to the head-to-head between the top-six sides, it was important for Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to get going on a high note and make a statement.
Overall, the match was completed in a typical fashion that the supporters of Old Trafford have been used to in recent years, where they start off very slow before ending the match with the three important points. Chelsea got off on the right foot and went close with Tammy Abraham hitting the post and Emerson smashing the crossbar, however, it was Marcus Rashford’s penalty in the 18th minute that opened up the game and allowed everyone to witness a more end-to-end match.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as the individual mistakes and the poor man-marking allowed the hosts to score two quick goals between the 65th and the 67th minute through Anthony Martial and Rashford once again. Not only that, Lampard’s options from the bench were not great to create a comeback, whilst Solskjaer was able to give both Daniel James and Mason Greenwood the game time they were in need of, with the former bagging his first ever goal for the club.
Here are the three factors we learnt from United’s first league game this season…
Clinical showing despite nervy periods
There are no doubts at all, that Chelsea were the better side in the first half, from controlling possession of the ball to creating chances patiently, but only the end product was missing. Had they still had the final third quality of Eden Hazard in the team, they would have put the game to bed by the half-time break and the Red Devils would have found it very difficult to turn it around. However, United were fortunate and took the lead from the penalty spot, and from there, they were constantly aiming to pounce on the counter.
After the break, Solskjaer’s men took things up a notch or two whilst Lampard’s boys were unable to be more productive and effective in United’s penalty box. Once the decisive second goal came through for the side from Anthony Martial, it was more or less over, with Chelsea trying to make the most out of any possession they had, whilst United were happy to sit deep and continue to counter when required. In the end, the hosts showed their patience in both phases and were able to adjust to some tactical tweaks, whilst the visitors were unlucky and fell apart as the goals were conceded.
Exciting debuts for the new summer arrivals
When deciding who would start in the huge fixture against Chelsea, Solskjaer was bound to use the new boys in Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, two players who instantly made an impact in the backline and were able to ease the pressure off the team on many occasions. If neither of them were on the pitch yesterday, the Blues would have easily scored one or two goals in the first half, or even more.
With how the two defensive additions recently performed, individuals such as Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones aren’t expected to make a return into the starting line-up anytime soon. Maguire’s appearance at the heart of defence was huge for the side, as he was able to guide the team forward on the ball and was regarded as a rising leader when needed. Meanwhile, Wan-Bissaka played a crucial role of his own, stopping Chelsea to break on the counter time and time again, and helping the team to recycle and utilise possession on both sides of the pitch.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are on the rise
At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will be played on a regular basis and also along with each other, something that couldn’t be done effectively the last two seasons due to the presence of Romelu Lukaku. Though, with the Belgian forward now at Inter Milan, the duo have a lot of expectations and high standards on them, with both players potentially in need of scoring around 40-45 goals in order for the team to finish within the top four.
With the club failing to bring in a replacement for Lukaku on deadlind day, a lot of the pressure has now been passed onto Martial and Rashford, as well as the other attacking-minded players in the squad. As long as the pair keep up with how they performed yesterday, in terms of the dribbling ability, movement on and off the ball along with an improvement of their work rate, United should be just fine in the long run.