Chelsea’s life under Frank Lampard got off to a disastrous start as they were trashed 4-0 by Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s new-look Manchester United. Here are five talking points from the Premier League’s opening weekend’s biggest fixture.
#5. Kurt Zouma is all kinds of trouble
Before the game against Manchester United, Kurt Zouma last played for Chelsea over two years ago and if it wasn’t for their transfer ban, he wouldn’t have played for them again having spent the last two seasons out on loan.
Frank Lampard allowed David Luiz to leave on deadline day as he surely believed the likes of Zouma was good enough. However, the Frenchman was arguably Chelsea’s worst player on the pitch.
Chelsea dominated the early stages of the game before a clumsy challenge by Zouma gifted the home side a penalty which they scored from. He then picked up a yellow card for an equally poor challenge on Andreas Pereira.
Zouma struggled against the pace of United’s attack throughout the game and he’ll need to step up his game or risk losing his place to Fikayo Tomori.
#4. Paul Pogba masterclass
There was a lot of speculation on the future of Paul Pogba this summer but the World Cup-winning Frenchman was not allowed to leave and he started against Chelsea in a two-man pivot alongside Scott McTominay.
The 26-year-old worked tirelessly and covered both his full-backs well as United soaked up the pressure at various stages of the game. In the second half, he put the game beyond Chelsea with two brilliant attacking moves.
He played a well-weighted through ball over the Chelsea defence for Marcus Rashford to put United 3-0 up. Later in the second half, he played a neat one-two and went through on the Chelsea goal but as soon as the Blues’ players surrounded him, he slid the ball through to Daniel James to make it 4-0.
United will need Pogba to deliver this kind of performances consistently if they hope to achieve the targets they’ve set for the season.
#3. Excellent first impression from the new boys
Manchester United only made three summer signings and two of them, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, the expensive defensive reinforcements, unsurprisingly started against Chelsea.
Maguire had a solid game and won almost every aerial duel while Wan-Bissaka who caught the eye with his tireless running and closing down on the right-hand side of the Manchester United defence. Both players played the full 90 minutes and helped United keep a clean sheet but the 21-year-old Daniel James stole the limelight minutes after he came on as a substitute.
James was introduced into the game in the 74th minute in place of Pereira and seven minutes later, he scored United’s fourth and his first goal for the club.
#2. Chelsea fail to make domination count
Many Chelsea fans will say that the 4-0 scoreline flatters Manchester United and if the Blues had a bit more luck, then they may have even won the game.
Chelsea started the game well and in the fourth minute, Tammy Abraham’s effort crashed off the post and came back. They still continued to dominate the ball and created chances but the penalty swung the momentum in the home team’s favour. The visitor’s had another golden opportunity in the first half when Victor Lindelof failed to clear a cross and it fell to Emerson Palmieri in the box but the left-back’s effort also hit the crossbar and came out.
Twenty seconds into the second half, Chelsea won a corner and that set the tempo for the first 20 minutes of the half as they made the entire United team work hard in defence. However, once United went 2-0 up, Chelsea were no longer up to the task despite the introduction of Christian Pulisic, Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante.
Despite losing by a four-goal margin, Chelsea still had more shots and shots on target than United but it all counts for nothing in the end.
#1. No Lukaku, no problem
Manchester United’s decision to sell Romelu Lukaku and not sign any replacement puzzled many fans of the club as there were doubts on the ability of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood to score goals in bulk. However, based on the game against Chelsea, United will do just fine without the big Belgian.
Martial and Rashford started the game with the former starting as the lone striker and the latter playing on the left-hand side. However, throughout the game, the two players exchanged positions and their pace made life difficult for the Chelsea defence.
Rashford won the penalty which he stepped up and converted even though Paul Pogba was on the pitch. However, the highlight of his match was the way he controlled Pogba’s pass in the buildup to United’s third goal and his second goal of the game.
Martial was also on the scoresheet against Chelsea. His goal was a simple tap in from inside the six-yard box but the timing of the goal was crucial as Chelsea were on top at that moment and pressing hard for an equalizer.