Talking points after the win at Stamford Bridge
With Manchester United safely through to the last eight of the Emirates FA Cup after another victory by a two-goal margin in the capital, we look at some of the talking points coming out of the excellent victory at Chelsea.
The 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge has equalled the all-time club record of seven away wins. Sir Alex Ferguson's Reds set it between April and August 1993, and matched it between March and April 2002. Of course, we can set a new benchmark in our next Premier League game on the road - at Crystal Palace on 27 February. We have reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the fifth year in a row and, not only did we avenge last term's final loss but we knocked out the holders for an 11th time over the years - more than anybody else. It is only the third time we have won at Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham in the same season.
Ander Herrera was voted our Man of the Match after making three tackles, winning nine duels and intercepting the ball five times, this aside from heading home Paul Pogba's cross for the opener. Our Spanish star was immense in midfield, following up a stellar display against the Blues at Old Trafford in 2017 with another masterclass. What was also impressed was how quickly he flagged up the contribution of our substitutes in his post-match interview and fans spotted his motivational embrace with Alexis Sanchez after the final whistle.
BEWARE OF THE POG
Pogba not only set up Herrera's header with the most inviting of crosses but he was the provider of the killer second goal just before half-time. Winning the ball in the middle of the park and expertly releasing Marcus Rashford, he then stormed into the area to attack the striker's perfect cross with his header having too much power for Kepa Arrizabalaga in the home net. For a midfielder, Pogba's stats are incredible - he has now been directly involved (either scoring or assisting) 15 goals during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's 12 games in charge as caretaker manager.
THE PERFECT RESPONSE
Many were doubting how United would react to a first defeat under Ole but a first win at Stamford Bridge in seven years was the ideal answer. The confidence has clearly not been eroded by the Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain and Solskjaer even said afterwards that the European tie is not over yet as we can still win by two goals, as we did on Monday night. The tactical work from the coaching team has been outstanding with the Blues nullified throughout.
Good to bounce back with a win... Liverpool next... , big games coming thick and fast now, that’s what this football club relishes. pic.twitter.com/5ZdrY1AjcX— Mike Phelan (@Mike_Phelan_1) 18 February 2019
SINGING IN THE SHED END
Over 5,000 supporters certainly made their voices heard in west London, roaring the Reds on to victory. 'Ole's at the wheel' was belted out and the backing was praised by all the United staff - including coach Michael Carrick, who posted on Twitter to say: "Non-stop from start to finish. The noise and energy was incredible. Would have loved to be in there myself."
United will face Wolves in the quarter-finals after being handed another tough draw. The tie at Molineux will take place around the weekend of 16/17 March, meaning the derby against Manchester City, who are at Swansea City in the cup, has been postponed. It is also worth noting the Premier League encounter at Wolves will also be called off with one of the clubs guaranteed a place at Wembley in the semi-finals on the same weekend of 6/7 April.
Ashley Young picked up a yellow card for a foul on Eden Hazard and will be suspended for the next round at Molineux. The England international's absence could open the door for Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian or Diogo Dalot depending on their fitness and availability.
Sergio Romero repaid the manager's faith in him by keeping a clean sheet and providing a solid base for the triumph. Although David De Gea travelled with the squad, our no.1 was on the bench with the Argentinian keeping his place, as he has for all of our domestic cup matches this term. The debate as to whether 'Chiqui' is the best no.2 in the business will continue after his handling was spot on all night and he made a decent double stop from David Luiz and Pedro in the first half. Romero even overcame a collision with Luke Shaw to ensure he saw out the shut-out.
That's 27 clean sheets in 42 matches now for Sergio Romero at MUFC. He has a better clean sheet percentage (64.2%) than any other Utd goalkeeper who has played more than three matches for the club— Paul Hirst (@hirstclass) 18 February 2019
CHONG IN THE STANDS
Although the Under-23s missed him in the 3-1 defeat to Stoke City, Dutch wide man Tahith Chong travelled with the first team and will have benefited from the experience. Ole has been integrating youth into his squad and there must have been a temptation to hand the teenager, who was handed his debut in the third round of the competition against Reading, a place on the bench with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard sidelined.
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
Old Trafford is the place to be on Sunday when Liverpool provide the opposition in a Premier League fixture that will mean everything to both sets of supporters. Let's savour this superb win in the capital first before the focus will very much be honed in on the visit of Jurgen Klopp's team but it is fair to say United are bullish and buoyant again heading into the clash.
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