It was another great week of Premier League football, which was rounded off at Stamford Bridge as table-toppers Chelsea clashed with manager-less Manchester United.
The Red Devils took a surprise lead early in the second half. Jadon Sancho capitalised on a poor touch by Jorginho before racing through on goal and slotting past Edouard Mendy.
But the Italian would get the chance to atone for his error from the penalty spot after Thiago Silva was brought down by Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Jorginho stepped up and coolly rolled the ball into the bottom corner to equalise.
Both sides had chances to win the game late on. Fred squandered a glorious opportunity after Mendy’s misplaced pass, and Antonio Rudiger volleyed over the crossbar when unmarked at the back post.
But the final whistle went with the scores level. The point keeps Chelsea at the top of the league, while Man Utd sit in eighth spot.
Here are five talking points from the match.
Cristiano Ronaldo left on the bench
When the team sheets were released, there was one glaring omission from the starting XIs: Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese, who is just one off hitting the 800-goal mark, was left on the bench.
While he’s been scoring plenty of goals, some pundits have wondered whether the summer signing has been hindering their team. He’s not much of a runner, meaning that Man Utd often don’t press when he’s on the pitch.
With a front three of Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, and Marcus Rashford, they were able to defend from the front a lot more.
However, there were also plenty of times where it felt like they lacked threat in front of goal – especially in the first half, when they had accumulated an xG of just 0.02.
Ronaldo is 36 now. He’s not going to be able to play every single fixture. However, a player of his stature will not be happy to be left out of the big games.
Man Utd’s midfielders stake their claim for a starting spot
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer out of the door, the Man Utd squad almost have a fresh start. They now have a new boss to impress. If the game at Stamford Bridge is anything to go by, there could be some competition for places in midfield.
Interim manager Michael Carrick lined up with a very defensively-orientated midfield. Scott McTominay, Fred, and
Nemanja Matic were the three selected, evidently with the intention of stifling Chelsea’s attacking threat. All three performed admirably as they battled to a draw.
McTominay was named Man of the Match by Jamie Carragher for a hard-fought display in the middle of the park.
He covered every blade of grass and won the ball back on plenty of occasions, making things very difficult for Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Fred was just as energetic and also didn’t let a whole lot past him. However, he let himself down in the final third, most notably when gifted with a wonderful chance after Edouard Mendy’s wayward pass.
As for Matic, he showed great composure on the ball while offering some steel. He may be well into his 30s, but the Serbian still has something to give at the top level.
Jadon Sancho hitting form
Jadon Sancho’s highly anticipated arrival at Old Trafford hasn’t been met with the performances to justify the hype.
From his first 14 games in all competitions, he failed to register a goal or an assist – form that cost him his place in the England squad in November.
But he’s broken his duck now. During the trip to Villarreal in mid-week, the winger emphatically slammed in off the crossbar to seal Man Utd’s place in the round of 16 in the Champions League.
This may have been the goal to spark him into life, as he followed it up with another strike against Chelsea.
The former Borussia Dortmund man kept calm as he ran through on goal before finishing into the bottom corner to put his side in front.
With the World Cup a year away, and competition for places high in his position, Sancho has a real task getting himself back into Gareth Southgate’s squad. But if he can keep up this form, he will surely be on the plane to Qatar.
Reece James impresses in a new role
Reece James seems to have elevated himself to a new level this season. The full-back has been the Blues’ main source of goals this season, scoring five and assisting five in all competitions.
One of the big debates surrounding the England national team is the right-back situation. With the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, and Kyle Walker also vying for that spot, Southgate is going to have to leave out a big name or two.
Against Man Utd, James had a spell as a left wing-back. It was an unfamiliar role for him, but one that earned him some attention.
It was enough to convince Gary Lineker that he could play that position regularly on the international stage.
The Three Lions aren’t as stacked in that area of the pitch. Ben Chilwell had been in excellent form, but recently suffered an injury, while Luke Shaw has been far from his best this term.
Trippier has also played there for England, so Southgate clearly isn’t worried about putting a right-back on the left.
Could this be James’ new role? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – time for something new?
There have been question marks over Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a while now, and they just got a bit bigger this weekend.
The £50 million man isn’t considered to be particularly great going forward – especially compared to the likes of Alexander-Arnold, James, and Joao Cancelo. However, many consider him to be superior defensively.
Now, this element of his game is also being called into question. He often got caught out of position by Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso down his side. He was sometimes able to use his pace to recover, but other times he left them open.
To make matters worse, it was his careless challenge on Thiago Silva which allowed Jorginho to equalise from the penalty spot.
And he was almost punished right at the death when he left Antonio Rudiger unmarked at the back post, only for the German to blaze over.
Largely due to a lack of competition, Wan-Bissaka’s place in the Man Utd starting XI has been fairly secure. Since signing from Crystal Palace in 2019, he has only had to fend off the likes of Diogo Dalot, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Brandon Williams.
But he is quickly becoming a glaring weakness in their side. If he doesn’t up his game, he could soon get replaced in the transfer window.
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