Three things we learned from Chelsea vs. Manchester United
LONDON -- Chelsea and Manchester United drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as Louis van Gaal’s side showed more attacking intent throughout but a wonder strike from Jesse Lingard wasn’t enough to win them the game.
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Chelsea equalized through Diego Costa in stoppage time and after an end-to-end encounter, a draw was probably the fair result.
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Here’s three things we learned from a breathtaking clash in west London.
LINGARD’S MAGIC BORN AND BRED IN MANCHESTER
Right on the hour mark a moment of pure magic arrived for Manchester United. It was produced in United’s academy as teenage left back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson whipped in a wicked cross which took a touch off Wayne Rooney and then the ball dropped to Lingard.
The 23-year-old has spent four spells out on loan from Old Trafford but has been a regular since usurping Memphis back in October. This was easily his best moment in a United shirt as he controlled the cross, juggled it up to himself and hit a majestic volley into the top corner with his back to the goal as he fell to the ground. His double dab celebration on Super Bowl 50 day was memorable in front of the jubilant traveling United fans and it came just moments after Kurt Zouma had been stretchered off following what looked like a horrendous knee injury after he landed awkwardly. United have always had incredible pride at producing local lads in their academy. Lingard and Borthwick-Jackson both shone on Sunday for the Red Devils, even if they couldn’t grab the win.
COSTA BAILS OUT OVER-CAUTIOUS CHELSEA
After watching Chelsea play at Watford on Wednesday in their 0-0 draw and then today against United, it’s clear they are being over-cautious. Multiple times during the game the home fans moaned and groaned as midfielders hit a pass back towards their own goal. Costa was isolated for much of the match and when he did get on the ball it was often wide. Chelsea finished the first half well offensively, as a slick move between Willian, Mikel and Oscar set up Costa who dragged his shot wide.
6 - Diego Costa has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League apps after netting three in the previous 14 this season. Rejuvenated.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 7, 2016
In the second half the injury to Zouma seemed to unsettle their defensive shape and United pounced with Lingard’s moment of magic. In attack Branislav Ivanovic had a volley superbly saved by David de Gea and he also denied Cesc Fabregas at the near post. Costa toiled up top but misplaced passes and players looking back instead of forward. It looked as if Chelsea’s 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions was about to be ended, but at the death a slack pass in attack from Memphis gave Chelsea the ball back and a slip from Daley Blind on the edge of the box let in Costa to slot home and he almost won it late on with De Gea denying his Spanish international teammate. The Blues are still unbeaten since Jose Mourinho was fired in December but they still seem to be second-guessing themselves in games and under Guus Hiddink they aren’t the fluid attacking unit they should be with the players they possess. On a positive note they aren’t losing games and are heard to beat, and the draw on Sunday will feel like a win.
MARTIAL WINS BATTLE OF THE WINGERS
After bursting onto the scene and scoring four goals in his first four games as a United player, Anthony Martial went missing for a while. There’s no doubt that in recent weeks the French attacker has been their best, and most consistent, outfield players this season. The same can be said for Willian at Chelsea and both wingers were in great form on Sunday.
Martial started brighter as he cut inside and drilled a powerful effort towards the top corner which Thibaut Courtois tipped away brilliantly. Martial, 20, also curled in a beautiful cross which was cleared but on the left flank he gave Branislav Ivanovic a very tough afternoon. On the same flank, but further up, Willian grew into the match and in a 10 minute spell before half time his pace and stepovers bamboozled Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The teenage left back kept dropping further back as Willian’s brilliance continued and in the 36th minute his incisive run and double stepover put Borthwick-Jackson on his backside and his cross just evaded the onrushing Oscar.
The pendulum of power continued to swing from Martial to Willian throughout the match and the former cut inside from the left -- that is fast becoming is trademark -- and drilled a low shot just wide of Courtois near post five minutes after half time. Martial was involved in Lingard’s goal and as Chelsea tried to grab a late equalizer they switched Willian into the center with subs Pedro and Eden Hazard on either side. That stifled Willian a little but the switch worked as Chelsea piled forward and finally got the goal they probably deserved. These are not vintage United or Chelsea teams but there’s no doubt they have two world class wingers who are a constant outlet and threat.
BONUS: The two goalkeepers weren’t bad either, were they? Thibaut Courtois made two stunning saves from Lingard and Rooney in the second half, while David de Gea made great saves from Ivanovic, Fabregas and then Costa at the death. Both goalkeepers are 25 and under and they will duel for many years, alongside Manuel Neuer, to be the best on the planet.