All of Manchester United’s new signings hit the ground running on their competitive debuts for the club as Chelsea were trounced 4-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named a youthful lineup, with the outfield players averaging an age of 23.5. Manchester United started with a bit of a half-hearted press, with Chelsea carving out a couple of good chances. Tammy Abraham hit the bar from outside the box and Chelsea looked like the better team going forward.
But, Kurt Zouma brought Marcus Rashford down in the box after the first 15 minutes of the game and Rashford calmly slotted it in the top corner to give United the lead. The lead saw United’s press become more and more active, making it difficult for Chelsea to play out from the back. The Blues still ended the half strong, with United lucky to be going in with a lead.
The second half though, saw Manchester United dominate proceedings, thanks to their brilliant pace on counter attacks. Andreas Pereira set up Anthony Martial for an easy tap in before Paul Pogba played a sumptuous lofted through ball for Rashford, who scored with aplomb as United raced to a 3-0 lead in a matter of minutes.
Daniel James rounded out the rout for Manchester United, with the winger being played through by Pogba after another brilliant counter attack and give-and-go with Martial at the half-way line. Chelsea came close on a couple of occasions, hitting the bar and David de Gea had to make several routine saves. But, in the end, it was a comfortable victory for Manchester United at Old Trafford.
We take a look at how each of the Red Devils performed.
David de Gea – 7.5
While a number of his saves were routine, the fact of the matter remains that de Gea made 7 saves against Chelsea, 2 more than any other keeper on the first matchday of the 2019-20 Premier League. Handed the captain’s armband for the game, de Gea showed he is up to the task and will not let the ghosts of last season get to him.
Looked solid while helping Manchester United play out from the back and in control of his area. A glimpse of what de Gea has been doing over the years.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 8
There really is no escaping Wan-Bissaka, is there? The spider weaved his web around the Chelsea players easily, with Emerson Palmieri having a hard time getting past the Manchester United debutant. He made more tackles (6) than anyone else on the field and was only dribbled past once. But, even when dribbled past, Wan-Bissaka’s recovery tackles are a joy to behold.
Manchester United fans would finally be relieved to have a proper right-back as the first-choice at the club.
Victor Lindelof – 7.5
With Harry Maguire coming in, it was expected that the former Leicester City man will shoulder the responsibility of spraying passes left, right and centre. But, Lindelof’s performance against Chelsea showed he isn’t a sloucher compared to the new arrival. Lindelof completed the most passes of any Manchester United player on Sunday.
Maybe, with Maguire in, Lindelof will have less to worry about defensively and hence, can focus on the technical side.
Harry Maguire – 8
A debut worthy of a Manchester United number 5. While Lindelof took charge of the passing, Maguire made sure no one got past the Manchester United defence. The clean sheet was well deserved but was a result of some major work in defence by the Englishman.
On his Premier League debut, Harry Maguire lead all Man Utd players in:
• total clearances (7)
• headed clearances (5)
• interceptions (4)
• attacking aerials won (3)
• defensive aerials won (2)
• blocks (2)
Man Utd’s new number five. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/dgkD5MX8aI
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 11, 2019
It is absolutely crazy how dominant Maguire was for United against Chelsea. It is perhaps even more impressive because the fans and the club have not seen such a dominant and assured performance from a centre-back in recent times. In a day where tactical fouls form part of the routine, Maguire gave away 0 fouls, which speaks volumes of just how good he was.
Manchester United have sorely missed a presence like Maguire’s at the back.
Luke Shaw – 6
Perhaps, this was a given. With the rest of the back four seemingly solid, Luke Shaw was more prone to being found out for his lapses than before. The Englishman was caught out of position a number of times and generally, looked unconvincing on both ends of the pitch.
Maguire had to go cover the left flank on a lot of occasions as Shaw was dragged out. The former Southampton star was unable to deal with the presence of Pedro and the marauding Cesar Azpilicueta, who was seen in acres of space in the first-half in the Manchester United third.
An improved second-half performance from Shaw, but it may be down to the fact that United were cruising. Shaw needs to step up his game this season or Manchester United might need to reinforce the flank soon.
Scott McTominay – 7.5
Honestly, if one would’ve said that there will be a time when it will be hard to imagine a Manchester United starting eleven without McTominay, no one would have believed it for one bit. But, that has come to fruition. McTominay offered what Matic does with added urgency and better awareness of his surroundings.
Scott McTominay’s game by numbers vs. Chelsea:
100% tackles won
100% aerials won
21 forward passes
8 ball recoveries
4/6 long balls
3 fouls committed
3 fouls suffered
Hard yards ✅✅✅ pic.twitter.com/aeqTAARoYA
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 11, 2019
The midfielder is quickly becoming a fan favourite thanks to his performances and with United not signing any midfielders in the transfer window, expect McTominay have a statement season.
Paul Pogba – 7.5
Yes, Paul Pogba is incredible. Everyone knows that. Yes, Pogba did provide two assists, with the one to Rashford quite exquisite and the run from his own box leading to James’s goal was brilliant as well. It seems Pogba is world-class, but only when he tries. In the first half, there were times when Pogba looked dodgy in midfield.
There were times when he drove forward and was caught out of position leaving McTominay alone to deal with the marauding Chelsea stars. It could be chalked down as an average performance with two moments of brilliance from Pogba, which could actually define most of his performances in a Manchester United shirt, sadly.
Jesse Lingard – 6.5
Lingard was obviously chosen over Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James to provide the press and experience respectively. But, Lingard seldom did so early on in the first half and only picked up pace in pressing once United scored. Although, that can be said of the entire frontline, Lingard doesn’t actually provide anything other than pressing.
As a result, Lingard was hardly involved in the game and his position might be under threat from the debutant goalscorer Daniel James going forward.
Andreas Pereira – 7
Pereira might just be Manchester United’s best bet at number 10 for now. The Brazilian provides the press Solskjaer needs, is neat on the ball, can grind in to recover the lost ball and adds to the creativity. What Pereira adds more than that is an ability from set-pieces, one of which in the first-half almost saw Manchester United score a goal, had Maguire returned the ball into the six-yard box on the first go.
It is easy to see why Pereira was chosen by Solskjaer. United do not have a dead ball specialist, especially in terms of corners and indirect free-kicks apart from Pereira and Mata, who just can’t be effective in a high-press system.
Marcus Rashford – 8
The shining beacon of Solskjaer’s high-press system. Marcus Rashford completed more tackles for Manchester United than every other player barring Wan-Bissaka. The penalty was well won and equally well taken. But, the highlight was his second goal. The run and Pogba’s exquisite pass was matched by his touch and finish.
Rashford needs to step up after Lukaku’s departure and his performance against Chelsea will start to make fans believe he can finally be the 20-goal striker United need.
Anthony Martial – 7.5
Martial has improved a lot on his work-rate since last season. The Frenchman worked hard for the ball and looked good on it. Had a brilliant chance early on to open the scoring, thanks to Zouma’s misplaced pass but hit a timid shot. Martial though, made the right runs at the right time and was rewarded for it in the second half with a simple tap-in.
Anthony Martial completed 4 take-ons in the first half vs. Chelsea, twice as many as any other player on the pitch.
Back wearing no. 9, back running at defenders. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/3N3ChpaQYX
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 11, 2019
Martial seems to connect with Rashford really well and his chemistry with Pogba is already well-established. Good signs for Manchester United.
Daniel James – 6.5
James could be the trump card for Manchester United in turning games around. The pace he has got; the Welsh winger can take advantage of tiring legs in the opposition defence coming on late. We saw a similar thing happen against Chelsea on Sunday.
His pace was unmatchable and Chelsea defenders couldn’t seem to cope with it. He didn’t do much though, and was lucky to get his name on the scoresheet, with a minute deflection through Emerson’s legs.
Juan Mata – N/A
Came on in the final minutes of the game.
Mason Greenwood – N/A
Great to have minutes under his belt.