Manchester United’s FA Cup dream is over for another year after a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea.
We have plenty to focus on with the Premier League and Europa League still to conclude, but before attention turns fully in that direction, its important to have a look at where it all went wrong.
Here are five reasons why Manchester United lost to Chelsea at Wembley…
Too many changes
Since the lockdown, Manchester United’s success has been based from a team based on consistent team selection.
United’s worst performance came when the team was heavily rotated against Norwich in the previous round.
So it was asking for trouble to change a winning side again here, not only in terms of the changes, but to switch formation.
United have done this successfully previously, but this was the first time they did so since February.
The changes meant that the players lacked intensity, and even while the game was goalless before Eric Bailly’s injury, Chelsea were the better side.
By resting key players Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sent a message that United were not taking this game as seriously as we could have done.
Reaplacements Fred and Dan James failed to bring anything to the side and it was no surprise they were both substituted early.
Less rest time
Chelsea came into this fixture having had two extra days to rest after their last Premier League game.
You can also factor in two trips from between Manchester and London too.
This lack of rest was one of the reasons Solskjaer sought to make changes to the side.
A fresh Paul Pogba likely would have started the game. Instead Solskjaer had to make decisions based on the fitness and sharpness of the players.
Chelsea were good. They looked like a focused team, who had benefitted from the extra rest.
While this should not be an excuse for United’s defeat, it was certainly one of the reasons behind a sloppy performance.
David de Gea’s form has become a problem for Manchester United. His errors are becoming more commonplace and less surprising.
United could have gone with normal cup goalkeeper Sergio Romero here.
Did De Gea feel any extra pressure because he was taking his teammate’s spot that he had earned?
Perhaps the mental fatigue of playing so many games in quick succession hurt the Spaniard.
Conceding the second goal at the time we did was a crushing blow for United and effectively killed off the match.
De Gea did make some good saves after his error for Mason Mount’s goal, but they were ones he would have expected to make.
Chelsea’s press caused problems
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard asked his players to put United’s defence under pressure in a similar way to Southampton did on Monday night.
It caused problems which United were struggling to answer.
United found it difficult to move the ball up the pitch and spend much time in Chelsea’s final third.
From a tactical point of view the challenge worked, and more and more teams will begin to question United in this way.
A less fatigued team would have an easier answer for this, but at this moment, this is the best way for teams to take the game to United.
Only one creative player
Bruno Fernandes created three goalscoring chances. He was the only attacking player to do so.
No other midfielder or forward managed to make a key pass, and when Fernandes is the only threat, he is easier to deal with.
Paul Pogba was missed in midfield and contributed little when he did come on.
Dan James looked lost in this formation and wasted any small opportunity he did get, while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial did not see enough of the ball to make an impact.
The troubling aspect of this was that beyond Pogba, who should have started anyway, United did not have any real creative options on the bench.
This needs addressing this summer. United need alternatives to ease the pressure on the top two midfield stars, otherwise Solskjaer risks running them into the ground.
- Cavani needs one more subsitute goal to equal Solskjaer record
- Jack Grealish responds to Dean Henderson’s new look
- Joel Glazer comments in announcement to plan Super League
- ‘Absolute scandal’… Gary Neville rages against proposed European Super League reports and Glazers
- Three big positives from Manchester United’s win over Burnley
- What channel is the Man Utd v Burnley Premier League match on? Kick off time, live stream and latest team news
- Three key questions as Raphael Varane to Manchester United links ramp up
- Youngster Malachi Sharpe undergoes first Manchester United academy training session
- Manchester United U23s deservedly beaten by ruthless Manchester City