Talking Points: Are Manchester United more dynamic in attack without Romelu Lukaku?
Written by: Waseem Zaidi
The Red Devils came out as victors in their opening tie of the campaign against the Blues.
Two of the most decorated clubs in English football, Manchester United and Chelsea, faced off against in their opening game of the new Premier League season. In an entertaining encounter, the hosts ran away with all three points with a thumping 4-0 victory.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard, who have both represented their clubs as players, met again on as coaches of their respective clubs, an iconic moment to say the least. The game had plenty of highlights and things to ponder over though, as the visitors were undone on the day.
Here are the talking points from MUFC vs CFC fixture, played at Old Trafford on Sunday.
5. Was it a mistake to sell David Luiz on Deadline Day?
In one of the most surprising deals of the summer window, David Luiz was sold by Chelsea to their city rivals Arsenal on the deadline day. In hindsight, that move seems to have caused a negative impact on the squad, which is already imbalanced and weak in defence, not forgetting that the transfer prevented Frank Lampard to replace the outgoing centre-back.
Kurt Zouma started at the back for the Blues alongside Andreas Christensen, with Antonio Rudiger nursing a meniscus injury. The 24-year-old looked shaky and nervous, giving away a penalty in the first-half that changed the complexion of the game. Without a leader like David Luiz in the defence, Chelsea would continue to leak goals like in this instance.
4. Has recruitment of Harry Maguire and Wan-Bissaka solidified United's defence?
Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were signed for the sole purpose of solidifying the defensive front at Manchester United, which conceded a total of 54 goals in the league itself last year. Both the recruits performed amicably and helped their team secure an elusive clean sheet after 16 games in all competitions.
Maguire, who was signed for a world-record fee looked at ease in the backline alongside Victor Lindelof, despite having not played in the pre-season with his new teammates. He was adjudged as the Man of the Match for his performance as well.
On the other hand, Wan-Bissaka continued his impressive form from pre-season and did not allow any breathing space to the opposing attackers.
Watch: Manchester United Vs Chelsea full highlights
3. Can Frank Lampard finish in the top four against heavy odds?
Chelsea’s defeat meant that they are the only side among the top six contenders who did not register any points after the opening gameweek, much less a victory. Lampard has a massive challenge on his hands, who must work with a squad he could not strengthen due to the transfer ban. Life without Eden Hazard has gotten to an unpleasant start.
With all their nearest rivals making recruitments and improving their squads, finishing amongst the top-four could be too big of a task for the London-outfit with an inexperienced manager at the helm.
2. Solskjaer's focus on improving fitness levels at United visible?
One of the clear features of United’s pre-season was their improved fitness levels and the gaffer has openly admitted to having worked on that aspect in the training sessions. The defensive strategy has seen a shift towards high pressing which needs exceptional fitness levels to sustain.
Players like Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard are crucial along with the pacey forwards to maintain that intensity, which was on show against Chelsea as well, as their defenders were constantly put under pressure when in possession of the ball.
Ole’s men were putting in lung-bursting sprints even at the late stages of the game, which is a very positive sign going forward.
1. Does Manchester United seem a more dynamic attacking unit without Lukaku?
A clear difference between MUFC of last season and this season is the dynamic nature of their frontline. Attackers like Marcus Rashford and Antony Martial can easily interchange positions and cause problems to their opponents with their blistering pace. However, their attacking outlets are more dependent on the left-wing, without a natural right-sided attacker in the squad.
Addition of Daniel James means, the gaffer can pump in more speed from the bench, as was visible against Chelsea. This reshaping of the attacking front has been made possible with the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan, as the Belgian was unable to play other roles apart from being the target man, which had turned United’s attack one-dimensional and easy to contain.
Published: Mon Aug 12, 2019 05:54 PM IST