Chelsea losing grip, United everything 5/5 (3)

Chelsea’s first season defeat comes against fellow Champions League hopefuls and city rivals Tottenham at Wembley. While actual title contenders distance themselves from the chasing pack.

Big game of the round pitted London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham at Wembley. The Blues came into this still undefeated but with 4 draws while the Spurs already suffered the bitter result 3 times in the Premier League this season.

Pochettino and Sarri

Chelsea’s defence, again

Chelsea played the worst match since Sarri took over in the summer. Tottenham’s high pressing game didn’t leave any chance to somewhat uninspired Blues.

Spurs started strongly and took the lead already in the 8th minute and doubled it 8 minutes later. Chelsea was never renewed for rock solid defence and if additional prove was needed it was served in this match.

First goal displayed all the liabilities in Sarri’s team defensive phase. Kane gets the ball in behind Alonso. There’s not much he can do there beside getting a foul. And when David Luiz is close, so is a free kick.

Absolutely unnecessary offense in a completely innocuous area. Accompany the Spurs striker and don’t let him turn. That’s all Luiz had to do. Instead he brings him down without any apparent reason.

Dele vs Chelsea

The following free kick showed next defiance in Chelsea’s defence. Alli had nobody contesting the ball. Nobody jumped to get the ball or at least disturb him! Kepa could perhaps done better in goal but that’s not the issue here.

Marking and stopping the opponent…what?

Second goal wasn’t any better. Home side most dangerous player was allowed way too much space to shoot. Again there was nobody to challenge him! No defender, no midfielder at 20 meters from goal to at least try to stop the shot.

If at the first goal Kepa could done a bit better, here he really should done much better! It wasn’t neither incredibly powerful nor anywhere near the post. The second goal is also on goalkeepers soul.

Kane vs Chelsea

Third goal conceded isn’t really worth commenting, right? Son scored but it was as Sarri himself assisted him.

Stop Jorginho, stop Chelsea?

Dele Alli shadowed Chelsea playmaker Jorginho all game long and didn’t allow the Ital-Brazilian to display his abilities. And that was basically enough to stop Chelsea.

Having the metronome cut out of play Chelsea had a lot of difficulties getting the ball in the attacking third. Any timid attempt organizing attacks from the back were quickly closed down by Pochettino’s men.

Jorginho

So Chelsea had to play it in behind Tottenham’s defence. However with Morata failing to time his runs no real danger came out of it either. Only meaningful shot the Spanish striker managed came when he was nearly 2 meters in offside.

Only in second half Chelsea managed to get a little more time on the ball but even that was due to Tottenham consciously retrieving and leaving initiative to the opposition. Just to hit it on the counter.

However the hosts couldn’t make use of the space in wide area as it isn’t what they’re used to do.

Response? Pedro!

Playing against a team that leaves open the flanks and substituting your striker with Pedro is not the way to go. Even if Hazard is up top. Neither him nor the Spanish fellow attacker can win in a duel for a cross!

Giroud is the only player capable of winning headers in opposition box. Waiting until the end to release him was just as bad decision as it was to play Kovačić who’s only contribution was a “rabiona” that started a counter-attack.

The match was always going to be tough and chances would be coming rarely. However failing to adopt to the situation on the pitch with adequate changes isn’t permissible at this level.

Giroud

Sarri will surely take important conclusions from this game and acknowledge own mistakes. But must be very fast in finding the solution to this kind of approach.  

Fabregas, anyone?

Limiting Chelsea’s attack so easily must be worrying Sarri. What if everybody does that? Risking a player to stop opposition fluency is something all managers will adopt without thinking twice.

Sarri’s game is based on prolonged possession and setting the rhythm. Perhaps playing a second playmaker could add some diversity. Something Real Madrid was doing so successfully last few years with Kroos and Modrić.

Since Kovačić isn’t living up to expectations and Barkley just recently picking up form, playing Fabregas next to Jorginho and Kante woudn’t be a bad idea. The Spaniard is capable of dictating the tempo and distributing the ball around the pitch.

In this way play-making burden would be divided between 2 players and hardly anybody would risk two players to man-mark deep midfielders. Thus your play wouldn’t depend on the passing ability of your center-backs.

Leaders routine wins

Man City Sane

Manchester City continue with running at full speed. West Ham practise was basically wrapped-up by 20th minute mark when Sterling extended the lead. Sane’s double just rounded the result but West Ham rarely threatened.

The fact that City scored 3 goals from open just by tapping it home from few meters demonstrates their superiority.

Similarly Liverpool archived Watford practise. Just that reds left it a bit late but nevertheless without particular scares.

United continues with…disasters

Manchester United continues to disappoint. Or is a home draw a disappointment any more? Frustrating situation for fans of one of the biggest club in the world.

It’s there for anyone to see that things aren’t working out. Fortunate win against Juventus in Champions League can’t mask all the shortcomings demonstrated in all other matches.

14 points behind league leaders, 7 points away from Champions League spot and negative goal-difference.

Mourinho vs CP

Why aren’t there any actions taken? How long will the club tolerate this kind of performances? How long will the fans?

A lot of questions remain unanswered and United continues with disasters. Unless the club decided that this season no trophies are to be won or even contested. Then everything is clear.

Elsewhere

Arsenal gained 3 points the hard and lucky way in Bournemouth, Everton won against Cardiff City at Goodison part and Leicester City managed to grab a point after being a man down for over an hour.

Important wins for Fulham, first game for new manager Ranieri and Huddesfield Town.

Fulham Mitrović

Chelsea losing grip but more importantly having exposed all weaknesses in a game that mustn’t be forgotten. It must serve as a reminder that you need a plan B.

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Manchester derby No ratings yet.

Manchester derby confirmed what was clear to everyone; City is miles ahead of United. Not even Pogba could turn this one around.

Manchester derby

Manchester derby

Across Europe a lot of mouth-watering clashes were played and the Manchester derby was the big match in Premier League this weekend. And everybody who expected a tight affair was left disappointed.

City produced a dominant display that didn’t allow the Reds any chance. True, United missed their best player in Pogba who fort-fitted just before the kick off. However city missed their best midfielder also in De Bruyne. So we could call important absences even!

Interestingly Mourinho and Guardiola didn’t fire poisonous dart at each other in the build up. As things stand right now that’s the only duel the Portuguese manager has a chance of winning.

City’s dominance

The scenario was clear from the beginning; the blues to keep the ball and attack in numbers and the reds to wait for mistakes and hit on the counter. It’s a familiar sight in the Manchester derby the last few years.

It was also clear that United’s midfield with Matić, Herrera and Fellaini can’t provide sufficient support to the attackers thru patient build-up play and defence-splitting balls. For that Mata would have to be involved. This midfield was composed to close the spaces and run the extra mile.

It looked as if Mourinho ordered man-marking of City’s central trio. Fellaini stepped up to mirror Fernandinho, Herrera tried to shadow David Silva and Matić was supposed to follow Bernardo Silva.

And it worked for United at the start. Well, at least for the first 10 minutes! Citizen’s play is way too dynamic and flexible to be limited with this kind of approach.

Early lead secured by David Silva who pounced on a loose ball in the heart of the penalty area was a just reward for shown till then. United barely had a kick and was already trailing.

Even before the goal the hosts, City in this case, had a few situations that could lead to their advantage.

United’s misery

Midway thru the first half Smalling had a header fly over the crossbar of a bored Ederson. And that “chance” was everything Mourinho’s troops managed in the first half.

United’s tactic to exploit opponents mistakes back-fired immediately after the break.

De Gea’s, Reds’s best player by far the last few seasons, miss-kick was picked up in the center of the park by City. Quick transition and a scholastic one-two on the edge of the area freed Aguero in a shooting chance inside the box.

The Argentine usually takes these kind of chances and he did it this time also. Thunderous shot above the keeper’s head; 2:0 and game virtually closed.

Manchester United’s 2nd half come-back, kind off…

Soon after Aguero’s goal Lukaku came on for an uninspired Lingard and immediately made an impact.

The Belgian striker went for a rare vertical pass in City’s penalty area. The situation wasn’t of any danger to the Brazilian shot-stopper in City’s goal as Lukaku’s movement was away from the goal.

Anyway, Ederson decided to go for it and duly came late, brought down the robust attacker and a penalty was given. Martial routinely converted from the spot, 2:1 and contest re-opened. It happened in the 58th minute and everything still to play for.

In theory, at least.

Mourinho’s game-plan worked in this occasion! They bored the opposition’s goalkeeper until he decided to go for an innocuous ball just to get some action. And made the mistake the Reds carved for!

Man Utd had a few minutes on the front foot after reducing the gap however never really threatened to get the second. Last season’s script wasn’t to be repeated.

Sane came in for Mahrez and demonstrated why he’s regarded the present and the future of the club. His quick feet and explosiveness were too much to handle for a tired United defense. He did spurn some good situations but he came in them with ease.

After a few missed opportunities, Guendogan’s goal in 86th minute cleared any doubts. The goal itself is the best demonstration of the gulf in class between the sides.

The German finished a team move that included 44 passes (!!!) and almost the whole team participating in the maneuver!

Conclusions from the derby

Manchester derby 2

City are the team to beat in England’s top flight, no argument there. Clear game-plan, several options for every position across the pitch and a ever-demanding manager.

The future looks bright and the final triumph is theirs to loose.

Manchester United’s been riding their luck and relying on for too long now. No clear game-plan, no rehearsed routines in attacking moves, little-to-none creativity in the maneuver, slow and predictable ball circulation. And a porous defense that already costed them important points.

League leaders are way ahead of them in every aspect.

If there was any talk or idea in the red side of Manchester about title challenge before the season started, they should revise their goals and set the bar lower. Much, much lower.

Chasing pack

Only Liverpool manages to keep up with Pep’s formidable team. Klopp’s boys managed to get over the midweek shock in Belgrade and obtain a win against slumping Fulham. As usually Salah broke the dead-lock. It wasn’t easy as the score-line might suggest as teh London outfit had some good opportunities to get in front but eventually succumbed to another defeat. Perhaps unjust but ultimately no points for them. Again.

Salah

Similarly, Tottenham forced a win away at Crystal Palace. First goal for young center-back Foyth proved enough to get all 3 points and maintain title hopes.

Chelsea somehow managed not to win against fairly modest Everton. The chances were there however eventually none of them were taken and the Liverpool side went home with a big smile on their face.

Another contender to drop important points at home was Arsenal. Contrary to Chelsea, Arsenal perhaps got what they deserved as for all the possession, Wolves had more attempts on goal and on target.

Relegation battle

Newcastle and Cardiff City snitched important wins against Bournemouth and Brighton respectively to escape from the relegation zone.

Especially important for Newcastle to build on last weekend’s win against Watford thus making it two-in-a-row.

Manchester derby was the most imbalanced match of the weekend with City displaying alarming supremacy. And since majority of other fixtures pitted top club’s against bottom one’s, it raises a lot of questions about United’s near future.

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Chelsea FC vs Manchester United – nightmare defending No ratings yet.

Chelsea FC vs Manchester United proved the real derby; goals, emotions, mistakes and boiling blood.

For the rest more or less everything as expected.

Chelsea FC vs Manchester United

sarri mourinho

 

It was expected to be the game of the weekend and you’d be forgiven if by half-time you’d be wondering what the fuss was all about. Chelsea was leading thanks to a Ruediger’s goal midway thru the first half and… that was pretty much it! United’s only meaningful escape in the blue half of the pitch was a Lukaku header that ended up well wide.

Once the teams came back from the dressing rooms it was a whole different story! Mourinho apparently instructed his players to step up and attack with more men which resulted in the eventual turn around. Martial took advantage from Chelsea’s shaky defending. And for me David Luiz was the shaky part of it.

Chelsea defence

He’s a great player, good passer or the ball, tremendous shot, good in the air a a lot more but he’s not a defender! That’s probably why Benitez, when in charge of the Stamford Bridge club, played him as defensive midfielder.

For the first goal David Luiz was on the floor, presumably in pain while the ball was bouncing around the box. Can’t determine the severity of his pain however he continued with the match right after therefore I can imagine that he could be on his feet and kick the ball away thru the pain – Martial was striking on goal just next to him! And then lie down and seek for help if it was really needed.

His partners in crime can’t be proud of their reactions also but, being such a hard player when it comes to tackling and fighting, I can’t get rid of the feeling that he could do more in that situation.

If for the first goal he might be in pain and somebody could justify him, for the second I can’t find any excuses. He mistimed his challenge, by a lot I might add, Mata flew past him and with a hole the size of Grand Canyon in the heart of the Blues defence it wasn’t too hard for the visitors to find a player who could fire on target without any obstacles.

After the comeback there were still 20 minutes left to play and Mourinho had his team playing like it was a handball match; everybody close to the box and playing it safe. Meaning kicking the ball as far as you could.

And after 20 minutes of relentless pressure from the home side, what happens?

This!

Chelsea goal

United black out

In the 95th minute with the ball flying into United’s box and with all 11 men defending the lead, THREE Chelsea players find themselves just few steps away from De Gea. Completely alone! And didn’t even score from the first shot after the ball bounced of the post. They had time to take another shot before anybody in red bothered to come close!

Surely the Spaniard is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and has produced some miraculous saves that kept his team afloat several times, however this was too much even for him.

It reminded me of the scenes in Shaolin football…

Mourinho anger

No matter what provocative words were said that caused all of Mourinho’s outrage, he should jump on his players on the field and shout at them! Incredible laps of concentration at the heavens door. Mourinho would enjoy getting one over his old club!

And while he’s shouting he could say a word or two about the first Chelsea goal as well. Ruediger was left completely alone in the center of the box and duly took advantage of it. Directly from a corner! It wasn’t a laboured action, a loose ball or a rebound. The cross came in a he was alone in the very center of the box, free to power his header into the net! Not really top notch defending.

But then again, it was the story of the whole match.

Another clue we could see in this game is that United has fire-power. A lot of it! Why Mourinho is keeping it on a short leash is anybody guess but if he decides to release it and actually play some attacking football from the beginning and not only when he’s losing it might bring some victories. Even the fans might start enjoying themselves in the beloved club’s performances.

Sarri maintained defeat box empty and Mourinho prolonged his stay at the helm of the most successful club in England. And both got a point for their troubles.

Chelsea FC vs Manchester United ended with a draw that before the match would be enough for the visitors, as stated in yesterday’s post and after the match is enoguh for the hosts.

Everything else

Beside the match of the day little surprises. Actually there was one! Liverpool’s win at John Smith stadium. And why is surprising that Liverpool won against Huddersfield Town? Well, because Liverpool didn’t play well, at all, and still managed to take all the stakes! In previous years the game would end up in a draw or perhaps even in a defeat but this time they got the result wanted. Winning without scintillating football, nobody can play 38 matches well, is champions material.

And additional surprise for me are only 3 goals conceded by the Reds defence. When you look at the line-up you don’t see 4 world-class defenders standing in front of Allison. There is one very good player, Virgil, and whoever partners him is just above average at best. Anyway, if it works, why changing it.

For the final victory Manchester City will be asked a question or two and probably also Chelsea, however the Beattles club is running smoothly for now.

City ran riot against Burnley and showed no mercy or sympathy for former club mate and captain Hart in visitor’s goal. Moreover, the Citizens had different scorers for all of the 5 goals while Ederson had the afternoon off. Guardiola surely appreciated the display.

As Liverpool, Tottenham managed to get all three points in the London derby against West Ham also without really demonstrating any of the sexy football they’re so famed for.

Important wins for Cardiff and Brighton against direct opponents for Premier status and for Watford in their quest for season wonder against Wolverhampton.  

Due to next week’s European matches all but 2 games have been played on Saturday which left the Sunday’s afternoon free. And it was a sad afternoon for football hungry fans.

Partial results

October 20

Chelsea 2 – 2 Manchester United

AFC Bournemouth 0 – 0 Southampton

Cardiff City 4 – 2 Fulham

Manchester City 5 – 0 Burnley

Newcastle United 0 – 1 Brighton & Hove Albion

West Ham United 0 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – 2 Watford

Huddersfield Town 0 – 1 Liverpool

October 21

Everton 2 – 0 Crystal Palace

October 22

21:00 Arsenal – Leicester City

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