Defence-First Approach for Mourinho’s United Will Not Cut it Against Chelsea
If the importance of David De Gea to Manchester United was not already obvious, his display in keeping out Sevilla in the Champions League confirmed it.
The Internet was awash with memes of De Gea and his many arms, but for as positive as it is for the Red Devils to have a star goalkeeper, it must be galling for their fans that he is the star performer.
United were outshot 25-6 by Sevilla, which highlighted the defensive approach the Red Devils adopted in Spain. It’s no surprised that Jose Mourinho deployed his side to stifle the opposition in a big away game; whether it pays off will be known at Old Trafford in a couple of weeks’ time.
Prior to the second leg with Sevilla, United’s focus shifts to the Premier League and they face a big game with Chelsea at home on Sunday. The key part of that sentence is the game being at home, as Red Devils fans will not tolerate a defensive approach at Old Trafford.
United started the season playing attacking football that was on a par with Manchester City, but while the blue half of the city kept up the relentless pace, the Red Devils failed to sustain it.
Alexis Sanchez was signed from Arsenal in the January transfer window to add some thrust to their attacking play, but he’s not had the blistering impact some would have hoped.
This meeting with Chelsea is exactly the type of game Sanchez was signed for, to make the difference against a top-four rival. For fans who feel the Chilean will be the difference maker on the day, he can be backed at 6.00 with 188BET to open the scoring.
The problem United have faced is that Sanchez’s arrival has unsettled other areas of the team. Paul Pogba is the main man at Old Trafford, but he was benched for the game at Sevilla amid talk of a rift with Mourinho over the Frenchman’s role in the side.
Pogba is at his best in an attacking role on the left of midfield, where he has the licence to use his raking stride and surge forward. Of late, he’s not been afforded that role and his play – and that of the team – has suffered.
Mourinho is not one to bend to player pressure, but at some point he may have to shift Pogba back into his favourite role – otherwise he stands accused of failing to get the best out of his star man.
Chelsea will head to Old Trafford on the back of a draw with Barcelona in the Champions League; they too adopted a defence-first approach. That was a wise ploy by Blues boss Antonio Conte, in a bid to curb the threat of Lionel Messi, and it will be interesting to see if he deploys the same strategy against United.
Conte adopting a defensive approach against a Mourinho side could be the most stereotypically British game of football ever witnessed – with both politely waiting for the other to make the first move – and a stalemate would not be the biggest surprise.
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