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What We Learned: Leaving the bus at home worked against Manchester United

To say it was a disappointment isn’t even scratching the surface as Manchester United fall foul to a Chelsea side allowed to dictate how a game was played. Jose Mourinho is often slated for his negative tactics, but you can’t help but feel a little more may well have done the trick for his side this evening. Eight points the chasm now, and a mountain to climb in terms of winning the title. Here is what we learned against Chelsea.

Over-reliance on Paul Pogba killing creativity

It seems the quicker Pogba returns to the fold the better. A side is always going to miss a player of his quality, but for it to impact so heavily upon the way they play is really quite shocking. Not one player on that pitch today looked like creating an opportunity. It simply isn’t in Nemanja Matic or Ander Herrera’s game to find the final ball, and the man entrusted with the task – Henrikh Mkhitaryan – doesn’ look able to kick a ball nevermind feed the strikers. It’s a damning indictment of the quality of the rest of the squad that this is the case and I would be intrigued to see how the goals scored tally has dropped off since the Frenchmans’ injury.

Three at the back needs to be forgotten

Chelsea pulled one of the three Central Defenders out of position with consummate ease this afternoon. For the goal, Alvaro Morata found himself in between just two players when a third in there stops the opportunity. All too often Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas found themselves in acres because of awful positioning. Sacrificing the extra man in midfield cost United the game ultimately and left Ander Herrera with far too much to do defensively that he inevitably became overrun. Never changing a winning lineup is the mantra, perhaps it is one that should have been forgotten today.

Lukaku feeding off scraps makes him pointless

Sergio Aguero is the type of striker that can drop in and create. Alvaro Morata is the same. Romelu Lukaku does not fall into this category. He needs the service in to him to make anything happen and it is entirely the fault of the tactics that he has now stretched his goalless streak to seven games. The one opportunity he got he rolled his man and got a shot off, and that is case and point that he desperately needs the service. Questions need to be asked.

Conclusion

The opening fifteen minutes gave real hope for the game today. United started wonderfully and looked to take the game to the hosts. Marcus Rashford was eyes open away from burying a header, but after that, there was very little until the final ten minutes. Winning the midfield was key, and Chelsea dominated it. Marouane Fellaini was his usual spectacular self when he came on, and bar being unfortunate towards the end the sum total of his influence was negative. It gives United a lot to do to close the gap to Manchester City, but it’s still early days yet and anything could happen. The obvious fallout from this will be how poor United were, but everyone cried out for attacking football, and look what happened. You’d be lying if you wouldn’t take a boring 0-0 right now. International break to come and Newcastle afterwards – an important time for United.

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