All eyes were on Manchester when United battled with Chelsea in the opening game of the season at Old Trafford. Chelsea started brightly in the opening ten minutes of the game, pressing United from the offset. Tammy Abraham almost silenced his critics on three minutes when he rifled a powerful shot past David De Gea only to be stopped by the far-right post.
United managed to sustain a counter-attack with Marcus Rashford’s quick feet committing Kurt Zouma to a clumsy tackle. Just like that night in Paris, Rashford held his nerve and hit the penalty high into the top left corner, despite Kepa Arrizabalaga guessing the right way. That goal seemed to kick United into gear, pressing well and forcing some mistakes in Chelsea’s midfield.
Rashford grew into the game and almost got his second but was clearly offside following Pogba’s through ball. That offside goal seemed to force Chelsea to press more and dominated United for the remainder of the half. Ross Barkley hit a shot well, after finding his way through following a good Pedro run, only to find the foot of De Gea.
Chelsea hit the bar once again after some miscommunication between Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire saw them both miss the ball, only to find Emerson Palmieri hitting the resulting opportunity against the top right post with De Gea well beaten. All eyes were on £80 million Maguire and initial signs show the potential of him and Victor Lindelöf as a partnership.
Both strong at receiving the ball under pressure and Maguire showing some of his marauding runs into the opposition’s half. Wan- Bissaka started the half well, winning his first duel with Emerson, and continued his pre-season success of committing strong tackles when called upon. However, he failed to really produce any attacking output, something which he will need as a United full-back.
Paul Pogba showed, once again, his importance to the United midfield. He controlled the game from the middle of the park and was behind most of United’s good play. From the onset of the second half, Chelsea began to press hard again looking for a quick equaliser. Rashford began to drop deep, helping Luke Shaw out on what looked to be a vulnerable side.
By dropping deeper, United began to show promise on the counter-attack. Following a strong tackle by Maguire, United broke. A good break from united resulted in Andreas Pereira crossing the ball in to find Martial in the right place to volley low past Kepa’s left. Quickly following the reset, Pogba found possession in the middle of the park.
His over the top through ball found Rashford through on goal. His first touch gained control and showed the composure to slot easily into the bottom left corner. Following this it was much of the same, Chelsea tried to pile pressure on but United kept sustaining counter attacks. On the 80th minute, Pogba once again showed some good link-up play with Anthony Martial as he found himself through on goal.
As the Chelsea defence caught up with Pogba, he used his strength to hold off those closing him down and put substitute Daniel James in on goal. He kept his composure to score the first goal of his United career. Chelsea failed to regain any confidence back in the game with Emerson stinging the palms of De Gea towards the end of the game.
The icing on the cake saw the appearance of Mason Greenwood but failed to have any impression in the closing stages. Whilst the scoreline was flattering, United showed good defensive resilience throughout the game and both strikers showed their instincts to finish at crucial times in the game. A great start to the season for United, but it is only a start.
Goals: Marcus Rashford 18′ (pen), 67′, Anthony Martial 65′, Daniel James 81′
Assists: Andreas Pereira 65′, Paul Pogba 67′, 81′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Pereira (James 74′), Lingard (Mata 86′), Martial; Rashford (Greenwood 86′)
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Young, Tuanzebe; Matic
Bookings: Jesse Lingard 46′, Victor Lindelof 69′, Scott McTominay 80′; Kurt Zouma 36′, Jorginho 52′, Tammy Abraham 57′, N’Golo Kante 90′
Written by Adam Bermingham