Manchester United came into this FA Cup Semi Final against Chelsea having already played and beaten them three times already this season. A win today would would make them level with the 2010/11 Manchester United team which was the only team to have beaten Chelsea four times in a single season in English Football.
While recent FA Cup history would lend itself towards Chelsea, with them having beaten United three out of four times in FA Cup in the last four years, United was coming into this game with some pretty impressive form since the restart. With both teams fighting it out for a top four place, each team would have been desperate to continue the momentum into the final two games of the season with a chance of more silverware in two weeks time.
My pre-game predication: 3-1 win to Manchester United
Both managers to set up their teams with a back five for this game, with Chelsea going three upfront where United went with two.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 19, 2020
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 19, 2020
First Half Summary
Both teams started out slowly as they felt each other out, each team targeting different center backs and seeing how they would react under pressure. Chelsea’s first shot at target came in the 10th minute from Reece James from just outside the box which De Gea punched away safely.
The five changes United made started to show with some disjointed play that allowed Chelsea to start asserting some dominance and exploit the spaces out wide which created an opportunity in the 15th minute for Alonso who got his head on a good cross but couldn’t direct it goal wards.
In the 24th minute/drinks break Azpilicueta decided that he wanted to find out what all the fuss was about Bruno and thought that a boot to Bruno’s intimate area would be a good way to get his attention. Bruno was left without words, but that was probably down to him being in pain rather than an attraction to Azpilicueta.
The drinks break did come at a good time for United as Ole was able to give some instructions that allowed United a brief spell of possession and pressure in the resulting five minutes. This resulted in Chelsea giving away a free-kick about 30 yards from goal which Bruno put on target but too close to the keeper who was able to palm it easily over the bar.
A late challenge on Fernandes afforded Bruno the chance for another swan dive in the 35th minute that gave Rashford the chance to hit another free-kick as hard as he can into the Chelsea wall to ensure that Jorginho remained on his heels.
Bailly and Zuma decided to bump heads as they both went for the same ball in the United box and after a bit of finger-pointing and head rubbing both players were able to walk it off after a couple of minutes. Maguire decided he need to check how Bailly’s head was doing a minute later by going for the same ball and heading Bailly in the back of the head resulting in a cut for Maguire and another bump for Bailly. This seemed to be one too many bumps for him with Bailly leaving the field on a stretcher which looked more precautionary than anything else. Ole elected to replace him with Martial which of course meant a change of system for United where they went back to a 4-3-3 that has brought a lot of success in recent weeks.
After a lengthy break, United resumed with a long ball to Martial that Zuma thought would be a good idea to hit along with hitting Martial in the back and was potentially a bit lucky to get away without giving a foul on the edge of the box.
On the stroke of halftime, Chelsea was able to get the ball out wide to Azpilicueta with Giroud fighting to get ahead of Lindelof to get his boot on the end of the cross and let it trickle over the United goal line. A sloppy goal for United to concede with only seconds of the half remaining with Lindelof and De Gea both should have done better.
A scrappy half of football came to an end with both managers having a lot to do in the dressing room but with Lampard the obvious happier of the two.
Second Half Summary
The second half started off with a bang in that Williams decided to pass it straight to Mount in the middle of the park who was able to run straight at the United box and has a half-decent shot which should be a regulation save, but once again De Gea fluffed it and let it slip past him. 2-0 Chelsea with 44 minutes to play.
After Chelsea dominated the opening 8 minutes of the second half Ole decided to change up by bringing on Pogba and Greenwood for Fred and James. Mount had a chance in the 57th minute to finish the game off but blazed a good opportunity over the United goal. Chelsea came back again with Giroud flicking the ball towards the United goal side netting but De Gea was able to get a strong hand to it and palm it away.
United continued to struggle to string passes together with Williams particularly struggling and giving the ball away cheaply. A drinks break at the 67th minute gave Ole the last chance to give some final instructions on how to get his team back into it.
Chelsea put a nail in the coffin thanks to a own goal from Harry Maguire who was trying to get in front of Rudiger and ended up toe poking it into his own net. 3-0 and that was pretty much the end of the game with still 16 minutes to go.
It was all a bit nothing until the 84th minute where United won YET ANOTHER penalty after Hudson-Odoi brought down Martial for a straight forward decision . Fernandes stepped up and put it into the back of the net.
All too little too late with Chelsea having more chances to increase their lead rather than a fightback from United.
A horrible game from United where unfortunately Ole got his tactics and team selection wrong. The moment the teamsheets were released I wanted to change my prediction but you back your manager and the team. But there were signs in the past two games that if you pressed United high up they were prone to making mistakes and that is exactly what Chelsea did to perfection. You can’t say any of Chelsea’s goals were particularly good, rather terrible defending and goalkeeping on United’s behalf. A big sign of problems for Ole to sort out in the coming days and months.
A lot of United fans came into this game thinking this would be a straightforward win as long as United played the same way they have in recent weeks. Unfortunately United decided to change it up and Chelsea looked like they wanted it more. The extra two days of rest might have made a difference as United looked tired all afternoon where Chelsea pressed well and worked the wings a lot better than United did. Overall Chelsea were the deserving victors.
That was probably one of the most disappointing and poor semi-finals United has ever been part of. A 3-1 whimper and out of the cup in what was a much-needed piece of silverware. United would have wanted to get the club back among the trophies after Liverpool won the league, but it was not to be.
This is the first loss in 19 games for United and the first taste of defeat for Bruno Fernandes in a United shirt – possibly the worst game to do it in but let’s see how the upcoming week pans out.
United fans will be worried about an important two games coming up to finish the season and the Europa League to follow, that this season doesn’t fizzle out like last year. Every time United looks to be making inroads and coming right they are brought crashing back down to earth with a couple of poor performances that shake the mentality of this squad that has yet to show it has what it takes to bounce back after a poor result.
Man of the match: Oliver Giroud