Goals from Herrera and Pogba made sure that Manchester United finally won an away game against Chelsea for the first time since 2012. Stamford Bridge has never been a favorable ground for the reds but a fine team performance made sure that they were back to winning ways. With the victory, Manchester United moves to the Quarter Final of FA Cup where they will travel to play the Wolves.
With Martial and Lingard out with injury, Lukaku and Mata started the game. It was a new structure adopted by Solskjaer where both Rashford and Lukaku occupied the wider roles while Mata playing in the middle.
Tried and tested midfield of Pogba, Herrera and Matic retained there places while the defence comprised of Young, Smalling, Lindelof and Shaw. Romero also continued in goal after his fine performance against the Gunners in the previous round.
Solskjaer recently went to watch Chelsea play and it seems that the new system with Mata at the tip of the diamond was adopted as a tactical change. Chelsea specifically has been defensively weak and the wider roles for Rashford and Lukaku meant the full backs were always threatened both with pace and power.
Manchester United started well and the high press resulted in few chances early in the game as well. Visitors dominated the game for the first 15 minutes post which Chelsea looked to control the game a bit more. Hazard made some brilliant solo runs and Young looked in trouble again down the right. Matic and Young both were booked following their challenges.
Solskjaer confirmed that it was planned that the midfielders were to go forward and fill up the spaces in the 30 yard box. The same resulted in both the goals coming from first Herrera and then Pogba. Paul was the creator for the first one as well when his pin point cross found Herrera who made a unmarked run for the center of the pitch to head it in.
For the second goal, it was Rashford who went through the Chelsea players and produced a cross which Pogba headed in. Again there was no coordination and marking between the Chelsea defenders who left Pogba free to score.
Chelsea looked much more composed and organized in the second half and kept most of the possession. But even though they had the ball they never looked lethal enough to score as the chances were very few to come by. Bookings for Matic and Young in the first half meant they both were cautious and resulted in some tricky moments in the game.
United were happy to stay back and let Chelsea have the ball. Two goal margin away at Chelsea was good enough to hold on to. The tactics changed in the half with more focus on counter-attack and Rashford was at center of it making some brilliant runs.
Sergio Romero: Made some important saves in the first half to hold on to the lead and clean sheet. Probably the best reserve goalkeeper in the world.=> 7
Ashley Young: Looked troubled against Hazard but got it controlled in the second half. Was good moving forward and produced some threatening crosses. => 6
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Smalling and Lindelof: Both looked calm and composed at the back. Produced some decent saves and rarely made any mistakes against the likes of Hazard and Higuain.=>8
Luke Shaw: Looked much more tactically alert. Looked to stay behind in order to provide the defensive covers against their full-backs.=>7
Herrera: Again showed his class today. Was brilliant in defense and attack both. Made some clinical interventions and looked energetic throughout. Scored the goal as well.=>8
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Matic: Seemed a liability following his yellow as a defensive midfielder who could not be aggressive. Could have easily been booked again but somehow managed to hang on in the field. =>5
Paul Pogba: Got on the scoresheet again with an assist and a goal. Completed 100% of his take-on’s and tackles, looked at his attacking best.=>8
Lukaku: Still lacks the attributes required to play every week. Dragged the defenders towards himself to create spaces for Mata and Rashford. =>5
Rashford: Made some brilliant runs and produced a good cross for the second goal. Improving with every game.=>7
Mata: Looked his best playing down the middle. Movement was great as always but still needs to improve to start in the XI when Lingard is back.=>6
Alexis, Pereira, Scott: Alexis and Pereira looked like they came out to make a difference. Were aggressive and alert and attacked the ball. Scott came on in the extra time and had nearly no contribution.
It was a decent performance from the entire team, especially after the midweek result. The team looked up for the challenge and capitalized on the weaknesses that Chelsea possess. Solskjaer has now won away at Spurs, Arsenal, and Chelsea and it seems he has got what it takes to be the permanent manager of Manchester United.
The victory also means United move into the quarter-final for the fifth consecutive season in the FA Cup. The match will likely result in the Manchester Derby getting rescheduled.
A similar structure can be seen again in the weekend against Liverpool in case Martial and Lingard are not fit by then. United would be confident heading into the game and would surely like to spoil the party for Liverpool.