Talking points from United's win at Chelsea
Manchester United grabbed a huge three points in the Premier League on Monday night, as the Reds beat Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Not only was it a significant win in the capital, there were plenty of other positives for the Reds, including a debut and a Premier League first…
REMEMBERING HARRY GREGG
Tonight’s match took place following the sad news that United legend Harry Gregg had passed away. To mark that, both sets of players wore black armbands at Stamford Bridge, while the away fans in the Shed End chanted the Northern Irishman’s name throughout the game.
Victor Lindelof’s absence through illness meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to shuffle the pack, and the boss opted to start Eric Bailly against Chelsea. The defender had not previously featured for United this season due to a long-term injury he picked up during a pre-season game against Tottenham Hotspur, but he was selected from the off in West London. The Ivorian put in a solid performance against the Blues, with highlights including a superb first-half tackle to deny Cezar Azpilicueta a one-on-one shot against David De Gea and a terrific second-half challenge to stop Mateo Kovačić pulling the trigger.
Odion Ighalo may have been starting to think he wouldn’t make his debut with the Reds well on top and two goals up but the striker was eventually introduced in the 90th minute. The Nigerian was greeted by a huge cheer from our supporters at the Bridge and although he was only on the pitch for a few minutes, he nearly opened his United account. Instead, he was incredibly unlucky to see his injury-time effort denied by Willy Caballero. What a start that could have been for our new recruit!
HOW THE TABLE LOOKS
United’s win leaves us three points behind Chelsea in the race for fourth place, although as things stand - with Manchester City facing a ban from European competitions in 2020/21 - fifth position in the Premier League table would be high enough to earn a Champions League spot next season. Currently, Tottenham occupy that spot in the table with 40 points, while Chelsea, in fourth, have 41. Sixth-placed Sheffield United have 39, one more than the Reds, who are seventh at present.
Tony’s powerful header on the stroke of half-time put the Reds ahead and, in doing so, the striker became just the third United player to score home and away against Chelsea in a single Premier League season. His fellow countryman Eric Cantona first achieved that feat during the 1992/93 campaign, while Wayne Rooney managed it in 2011/12. Martial’s goal means he has netted 13 times in all competitions this term and only Marcus Rashford (19) has scored more for the Reds.
VAR RULES IN OUR FAVOUR
The home fans had precious little to cheer about on Monday and when they did get something to roar for, VAR quickly cut short their celebrations. The first of two disallowed goals came after Kurt Zouma smashed the ball home in the second period. However, it was immediately clear the strike would not stand, as Azpilicueta fouled Brandon Williams during the build-up. The decision went to VAR and it was correctly decided that the Spaniard had shoved the Reds defender, and the goal was chalked off. Oliver Giroud suffered a similar fate when he headed in Mason Mount’s cross later in the game, with VAR graphics revealing the Frenchman had wandered into an offside position.
Harry Maguire grabbed his maiden United goal in last month’s 6-0 Emirates FA Cup triumph over Tranmere Rovers and on Monday our skipper netted for us in the Premier League for the first time. The defender rose highest in the box and connected with Bruno Fernandes’s inch-perfect cross in the 65th minute to double United’s lead. Harry last netted in the league in January 2019, when he was on the scoresheet for former employers Leicester City in a 1-1 draw against Liverpool.
A MAIDEN LEAGUE DOUBLE
Incredibly, our victory against the Blues means we registered our first-ever Premier League double over Chelsea. The last time the Reds beat the Londoners home and away in the same league season was in 1987/88, when the top flight was still called the First Division. Ole’s men did, of course, put the Blues to the sword on the opening day of this campaign, beating them 4-0 at Old Trafford. We also went on to knock Frank Lampard's side out of the Carabao Cup at October, so Solskjaer now has a hat-trick of wins against them this season and four wins from five meetings overall as United manager.
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