Five things we learned as Manchester United lose 3-1 to Chelsea

Manchester United are out of the FA Cup after a semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

Here is a look at five things we learned from the showdown at Wembley…

Change of system not a success

This was the first time Manchester United had played three at the back since February.

Having beaten Chelsea using the same system, reverting to a 3-4-1-2 was understandable. It was also a formation we had suggested may work against Palace, after the injury to Luke Shaw.

But as the game began, it became evident that the system, combined with key players Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial sitting on the bench, was not an instant success.

Chelsea dominated possession early on, and after three previous defeats to United this season, their start gave them hope.

A double injury to Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly forced the issue, with the Ivorian substituted and Anthony Martial brought on.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Defence remains an issue

One of the reasons Bailly was replaced by Anthony Martial was because United had no other centre-backs on the bench.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah could have filled in, but United are seriously light here with Axel Tuanzebe out injured until September.

On the pitch Victor Lindelof will be disappointed with his role in Chelsea’s first goal.

He was beaten to the ball by Olivier Giroud, like he was by Michael Obafemi for Southampton last Monday.

Harry Maguire’s own goal just topped off a terrible performance we will want to forget.

Tuanzebe, Bailly, and youngster Teden Mengi will all look to come back stronger, but this increasingly looks like an area United need to improve on this summer.

Bailly’s injury was unfortunate, but aren’t they all? It is time and time again with him, and looking at the bigger picture, if a big name centre-back is signed, he could be the fall guy.

If Bailly is out for any considerable amount of time this season, then Maguire and Lindelof play the rest of the season on a knife-edge.

Photo by ANDY RAIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

De Gea performance will dominate headlines

David de Gea’s performance will dominate headlines and post-match discussion.

The first goal he could have saved, and probably would have done a couple of years ago.

But the shot came at him so hard, from so close in, that you could give him the benefit of the doubt.

No so on the second. Mason Mount’s weak shot slipped under him, and there is simply no excusing that one.

It was a big call for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to start De Gea ahead of usual cup goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

With hindsight, the manager will wish he had stuck with the Argentine instead.

Photo by ANDY RAIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Premier League battle takes it’s toll

Whether you choose to look backwards or forwards, the Premier League race for the Champions League race took it’s toll on United for this game.

A poor start to the season has led to us being unable to rest players ahead of this match.

Important games against West Ham and Leicester this coming week will also have played on Solskjaer’s mind for the selection heading into this game.

An unkind fixture schedule for United led to Chelsea having two extra days rest for this one, which obviously did not help.

But the bigger issue is a lack of strength in depth for United, which has hurt us all season long.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Luke Shaw was missed

This was not a pretty game for Brandon Williams at left-back, who himself was coming off a head injury against Southampton.

The academy youngster has had a fine breakthrough season, but this was not one of his better games.

United have a decision to make on Wednesday now, whether to stick with Williams, bring in Timothy Fosu-Mensah again.

Hopefully Luke Shaw will be back, because he really was missed in this one.

Shaw has his critics, but he has been much improved in recent weeks, linking up well with Marcus Rashford down the left.

We missed him offensively and defensively here, and his return can’t come quickly enough.

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