56 min Fernandes plays the free-kick short to Wan-Bissaka. He crosses beyond the far post to Maguire, whose header is comfortably held by Caballero.
55 min James is shoved over by Rudiger just outside the area on the right. Before the free-kick is taken, Pogba and Greenwood replace Fred and Daniel James.
54 min Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood are about to come on.
54 min United are having their best spell of the game, though that’s mainly because Chelsea are now protecting a lead.
53 min Fernandes sprays a brilliant long pass over the defence to Rashford, who shoots just wide of the far post from a tight angle. I’m not sure it would have counted anyway – I think the ball touched his arm as he controlled it.
51 min Mount’s low cross is miscontrolled at the near post by Giroud. Chelsea could run away with this.
50 min “It’s been great watching United progress from constipated plodders to scything musketeers via the successful integration, or reboot, of Fernandes, Maguire, Wan Bissaka, Greenwood, Martial, Shaw and Pogba of late,” says Patrick Treacy. “But realistically I feel they are a distance behind Chelsea, who may not have as good a first XI, but have stronger and more suitable options on their bench, have bought well and early for next year and have room for improvement via a tactical upgrade. I think three players is the minimum United will need to reassert themselves as a force – more like two summer transfer windows imho.”
I don’t think either team have a chance of challenging Liverpool for the title next season. I agree about Chelsea’s depth, though United have the better starting XI for mine.
49 min I’d imagine we’ll see Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba very soon.
48 min “Like I said earlier…the formation was wrong, far too negative,” says Neil Carter. “Ironic really that Chelsea score after our best moments of the first half with Tony in the pitch. Greenwood to score the winner!”
47 min I bet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wishes he had stuck with his usual FA Cup keeper, Sergio Romero.
That’s a dreadful mistake. Williams played a really loose square pass that was picked up by Mount, 35 yards from goal. He ran to the edge of the D and drove a routine low shot that somehow went through the fingers of the diving de Gea.
GOAL! Man Utd 0-2 Chelsea (Mount 46)
This is definitely a howler from David de Gea – and from Brandon Williams.
46 min Chelsea begin the second half. No news on Eric Bailly, who presumably has been taken to hospital.
“Much has been said (by far cleverer people than me) about De Gea, but he’s a real conundrum,” says Matt Dony. “It wasn’t a case of him having a bit of a purple patch a few years ago. He was genuinely, inarguably one of the very best goalkeepers in the world. He seemed to pull off amazing saves regularly. During a period where United had the worst bunch of defenders they’d had for years, he made them respectable. It wasn’t even that long ago, was it? These days, he’s a liability. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, he still makes some good saves, but the ball goes through him far, far too often. On balance, he’s now an adequate keeper. No more, no less. I don’t understand the change. I can’t think of many other sportspeople who have gone from being consistently so incredible for a few years to consistently so average for a few years. Does Ole stick or twist before next season? Surely he has to twist…”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a keeper with better reactions than de Gea, so I’d be loath to sell him unless I was nigh-on certain he was past his best. He’s 29, which is young for a keeper, but he also started as a teenager. My hunch is he’ll never get back to his 2012-18 level. But how can you be sure?
“A quick look at Project Restart shows Man Utd having a game on average every 3.3 days,” says Ben O’Connell. “That’s not counting the possible final of the FA Cup or any Europa League games. That’s an incredible amount of game time in a short period of time after a gap longer than most off seasons with no preseason. Add to that a shallow squad and you’re likely to get decreasing standard of play.”
“De Gea is not elite with the ball at his feet and never sweeps up,” says Digvijay Yadav. “His redeeming quality – pulling off ridiculous saves – has waned considerably. And now he’s on a massive wage. Oh well.”
It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it? For four or five years he was astoundingly good. Maybe he never got over that slightly miserable 2018 World Cup.
I can’t decide whether de Gea was at fault for the goal or not. Giroud was only six yards out so his reaction time was almost nonexistent, but having got a hand to the ball he probably should have saved it. I think he pushed it onto his leg and back over the line, in which case he was a little unlucky.
Half time: Man Utd 0-1 Chelsea
Peep peep! That was a strange, subdued first half, but Chelsea were the better side and probably deserve to be ahead.
Azpilicueta played a give and go with Willian down the right and curled a fast cross to the near post. Giroud got away from the sleepy Lindelof and flicked a neat shot with the outside of the left foot that went through de Gea and into the net.
GOAL! Man Utd 0-1 Chelsea (Giroud 45+11)
Olivier Giroud scores in the 56th minute!
45+11 min Bruno Fernandes suddenly reverses a brilliant pass through the Chelsea defence, but the alert Caballero gets to the ball just before James.
45+9 min We’re in the 54th minute of the first half. What day is this?
45+8 min United appeal for a penalty when Martial goes down after a clumsy challenge from Zouma. VAR decides Mike Dean didn’t make a clear and obvious error. It was definitely a foul – Martial got to the bouncing ball first and Zouma booted his leg – but I reckon it was just outside the area, so maybe that’s why VAR didn’t intervene.
45+8 min Five minutes of added time were scheduled but I’d imagine it will 11 or 12.
45+7 min “Afternoon Rob,” says Tim. “City unarguably have strength in depth up front and in midfield, but it’s fair to say they didn’t cope marvellously well with Laporte’s injury this season.”
Yeah but wait until this summer, when they buy Koulibaly, Upamecano, Skriniar, Maldini, Beckenbauer and Baresi.
45+6 min Bailly is being wheeled down the tunnel and play will resume.
45+5 min Bailly is being moved very slowly onto a stretcher. The BBC commentator Steve Wilson said that Bailly had a delayed reaction to the clash of heads with Maguire, which is worrying.
45+3 min Bailly is now lying on his back near the touchline. He is in a neck brace and a stretcher is being prepared. Play has been stopped because Bailly is being treated right by the touchline.
45+1 min Bailly is on his feet, but he’s clearly concussed and is going to come off. Martial replaces him, so I imagine United will switch to the usual 4-2-3-1: de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; James, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
45 min While Maguire has his head bandaged, Anthony Martial is getting ready to come on for Eric Bailly.
44 min Maguire is sitting up while his eye is stitched. He looks okay but Bailly is probably concussed; he’s clashed heads twice in the space of three minutes.
42 min Now Bailly has clashed heads with Maguire, who has a bit of blood coming from his right eye. Both players look very groggy. If United do have to make a change, they might take the opportunity to switch to a back four.
41 min Zouma and Bailly are okay to continue.
40 min “United resting Pogba, Martial and Greenwood has exposed the lack of quality in the squad,” says Stephen Carr. “Same with Liverpool if any of the front three are missing (and god forbid van Dijk gets injured). Only City have genuine strength in depth – a squad which we now know was assembled using only entirely legitimate means.”
You say that about Liverpool, but one of the most astonishing things about that 4-0 win over Barcelona is that they were without Salah and Firmino for the whole game and Robertson for the second half. I agree that it’s not sustainable over a longer period though.
39 min Mount’s deflected cross from the left is headed over by the diving Zouma at the near post. It was a half chance at most. Zouma and Bailly clashed heads as they dived for the ball, and both are still down.
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